October 21, 2014

Internet-Based Healthy Eating Program Improves Diet and Body

BACKGROUND: The HealthValues Healthy Eating Programme is a standalone Internet-based intervention that employs a novel strategy for promoting behavior change (analyzing one's reasons for endorsing health values) alongside other psychological principles that have been shown to influence behavior. The program consists of phases targeting motivation (dietary feedback and advice, analyzing reasons for health values, thinking about health-related desires, and concerns), volition (implementation intentions with mental contrasting), and maintenance (reviewing tasks, weekly tips).

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to examine the effects of the program on consumption of fruit and vegetables, saturated fat, and added sugar over a 6-month period.

METHODS: A total of 82 females and 18 males were recruited using both online and print advertisements in the local community. They were allocated to an intervention or control group using a stratified block randomization protocol. The program was designed such that participants logged onto a website every week for 24 weeks and completed health-related measures. Those allocated to the intervention group also completed the intervention tasks at these sessions. Additionally, all participants attended laboratory sessions at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. During these sessions, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ, the Block Fat/Sugar/Fruit/Vegetable Screener, adapted for the UK), and researchers (blind to group allocation) measured their body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and heart rate variability (HRV).

RESULTS: fruit and vegetable consumption went up. Intake of saturated fats went down. Sugar intake went down. BMI and WHR both went down. 

CONCLUSIONS: The Web-based nature of the program makes it a potentially cost-effective way of promoting healthy eating.

J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(10):e231