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1.  Behavioral Self-Regulation and Weight-Related Behaviors in Inner-City Adolescents: A Model of Direct and Indirect Effects 
Childhood obesity (Print)  2011;7(4):306-315.
This study examined the association of two distinct self-regulation constructs, effortful control and dysregulation, with weight-related behaviors in adolescents and tested whether these effects were mediated by self-efficacy variables.
A school-based survey was conducted with 1771 adolescents from 11 public schools in the Bronx, New York. Self-regulation was assessed by multiple indicators and defined as two latent constructs. Dependent variables included fruit/vegetable intake, intake of snack/junk food, frequency of physical activity, and time spent in sedentary behaviors. Structural equation modeling examined the relation of effortful control and dysregulation to lifestyle behaviors, with self-efficacy variables as possible mediators.
Study results showed that effortful control had a positive indirect effect on fruit and vegetable intake, mediated by self-efficacy, as well as a direct effect. Effortful control also had a positive indirect effect on physical activity, mediated by self-efficacy. Dysregulation had direct effects on intake of junk food/snacks and time spent in sedentary behaviors.
These findings indicate that self-regulation characteristics are related to diet and physical activity and that some of these effects are mediated by self-efficacy. Different effects were noted for the two domains of self-regulation. Prevention researchers should consider including self-regulation processes in programs to improve health behaviors in adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3522174  PMID: 23243551
2.  Explaining the effects of a 1-year intervention promoting a low fat diet in adolescent girls: a mediation analysis 
Although it is important to investigate how interventions work, no formal mediation analyses have been conducted to explain behavioral outcomes in school-based fat intake interventions in adolescents. The aim of the present study was to examine mediation effects of changes in psychosocial determinants of dietary fat intake (attitude, social support, self-efficacy, perceived benefits and barriers) on changes in fat intake in adolescent girls.
Data from a 1-year prospective intervention study were used. A random sample of 804 adolescent girls was included in the study. Girls in the intervention group (n = 415) were exposed to a multi-component school-based intervention program, combining environmental changes with a computer tailored fat intake intervention and parental support. Fat intake and psychosocial determinants of fat intake were measured with validated self-administered questionnaires. To assess mediating effects, a product-of-coefficient test, appropriate for cluster randomized controlled trials, was used.
None of the examined psychosocial factors showed a reliable mediating effect on changes in fat intake. The single-mediator model revealed a statistically significant suppression effect of perceived barriers on changes in fat intake (p = 0.011). In the multiple-mediator model, this effect was no longer significant, which was most likely due to changes in perceived barriers being moderately related to changes in self-efficacy (-0.30) and attitude (-0.25). The overall mediated-suppressed effect of the examined psychosocial factors was virtually zero (total mediated effect = 0.001; SE = 7.22; p = 0.992).
Given the lack of intervention effects on attitudes, social support, self-efficacy and perceived benefits and barriers, it is suggested that future interventions should focus on the identification of effective strategies for changing these theoretical mediators in the desired direction. Alternatively, it could be argued that these constructs need not be targeted in interventions aimed at adolescents, as they may not be responsible for the intervention effects on fat intake. To draw any conclusions regarding mediators of fat-intake change in adolescent' girls and regarding optimal future intervention strategies, more systematic research on the mediating properties of psychosocial variables is needed.
PMCID: PMC2200660  PMID: 17996087
3.  Diet and Physical Activity for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Policy Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001465.
Carl Lachat and colleagues evaluate policies in low- and middle-income countries addressing salt and fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity, key risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and constitute a leading cause of mortality. Although a call for global action has been resonating for years, the progress in national policy development in LMICs has not been assessed. This review of strategies to prevent NCDs in LMICs provides a benchmark against which policy response can be tracked over time.
Methods and Findings
We reviewed how government policies in LMICs outline actions that address salt consumption, fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, or physical activity. A structured content analysis of national nutrition, NCDs, and health policies published between 1 January 2004 and 1 January 2013 by 140 LMIC members of the World Health Organization (WHO) was carried out. We assessed availability of policies in 83% (116/140) of the countries. NCD strategies were found in 47% (54/116) of LMICs reviewed, but only a minority proposed actions to promote healthier diets and physical activity. The coverage of policies that specifically targeted at least one of the risk factors reviewed was lower in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Eastern Mediterranean compared to the other two World Health Organization regions, South-East Asia and Western Pacific. Of the countries reviewed, only 12% (14/116) proposed a policy that addressed all four risk factors, and 25% (29/116) addressed only one of the risk factors reviewed. Strategies targeting the private sector were less frequently encountered than strategies targeting the general public or policy makers.
This review indicates the disconnection between the burden of NCDs and national policy responses in LMICs. Policy makers urgently need to develop comprehensive and multi-stakeholder policies to improve dietary quality and physical activity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—chronic medical conditions including cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma)—are responsible for two-thirds of the world's deaths. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths, close to 30 million per year, occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where they are also rising most rapidly. Diet and lifestyle (including smoking, lack of exercise, and harmful alcohol consumption) influence a person's risk of developing an NCD and of dying from it. Because they can be modified, these risk factors have been at the center of strategies to combat NCDs. In 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. For diet, it recommended that individuals achieve energy balance and a healthy weight; limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids; increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts; limit the intake of free sugars; and limit salt consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized. For physical activity, it recommended at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days throughout a person's life.
Why Was This Study Done?
By signing onto the Global Strategy in 2004, WHO member countries agreed to implement it with high priority. A first step of implementation is usually the development of local policies. Consequently, one of the four objectives of the WHO Global Strategy is “to encourage the development, strengthening and implementation of global, regional, national and community policies and action plans to improve diets and increase physical activity.” Along the same lines, in 2011 the United Nations held a high-level meeting in which the need to accelerate the policy response to the NCD epidemic was emphasized. This study was done to assess the existing national policies on NCD prevention in LMICs. Specifically, the researchers examined how well those policies matched the WHO recommendations for intake of salt, fat, and fruits and vegetables, as well as the recommendations for physical activity.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the Internet (including websites of relevant ministries and departments) for all publicly available national policies related to diet, nutrition, NCDs, and health from all 140 WHO member countries classified as LMICs by the World Bank in 2011. For countries for which the search did not turn up policies, the researchers sent e-mail requests to the relevant national authorities, to the regional WHO offices, and to personal contacts. All documents dated from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2013 that included national objectives and guidelines for action regarding diet, physical exercise, NCD prevention, or a combination of the three, were analyzed in detail.
Most of the policies obtained were not easy to find and access. For 24 countries, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, the researchers eventually gave up, unable to establish whether relevant national policies existed. Of the remaining 116 countries, 29 countries had no relevant policies, and another 30 had policies that failed to mention specifically any of the diet-related risk factors included in the analysis. Fifty-four of the 116 countries had NCD policies that addressed at least one of the risk factors. Thirty-six national policy documents contained strategies to increase fruit and vegetable intake, 20 addressed dietary fat consumption, 23 aimed to limit salt intake, and 35 had specific actions to promote physical activity. Only 14 countries, including Jamaica, the Philippines, Iran, and Mongolia, had policies that addressed all four risk factors. The policies of 27 countries mentioned only one of the four risk factors.
Policies primarily targeted consumers and government agencies and failed to address the roles of the business community or civil society. Consistent with this, most were missing plans, mechanisms, and incentives to drive collaborations between the different stakeholders.
What Do These Findings Mean?
More than eight years after the WHO Global Strategy was agreed upon, only a minority of the LMICs included in this analysis have comprehensive policies in place. Developing policies and making them widely accessible is a likely early step toward specific implementation and actions to prevent NCDs. These results therefore suggest that not enough emphasis is placed on NCD prevention in these countries through actions that have been proven to reduce known risk factors. That said, the more important question is what countries are actually doing to combat NCDs, something not directly addressed by this analysis.
In richer countries, NCDs have for decades been the leading cause of sickness and death, and the fact that public health strategies need to emphasize NCD prevention is now widely recognized. LMICs not only have more limited resources, they also continue to carry a large burden from infectious diseases. It is therefore not surprising that shifting resources towards NCD prevention is a difficult process, even if the human cost of these diseases is massive and increasing. That only about 3% of global health aid is aimed at NCD prevention does not help the situation.
The authors argue that one step toward improving the situation is better sharing of best practices and what works and what doesn't in policy development. They suggest that an open-access repository like one that exists for Europe could improve the situation. They offer to organize, host, and curate such a resource under the auspices of WHO, starting with the policies retrieved for this study, and they invite submission of additional policies and updates.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Stuckler and Basu
The WHO website on diet and physical activity contains links to various documents, including a diet and physical activity implementation toolbox that contains links to the 2004 Global Strategy document and a Framework to Monitor and Evaluate Implementation
There is a 2011 WHO primer on NCDs entitled Prioritizing a Preventable Epidemic
A recent PLOS Medicine editorial and call for papers addressing the global disparities in the burden from NCDs
A PLOS Blogs post entitled Politics and Global HealthAre We Missing the Obvious? and associated comments discuss the state of the fight against NCDs in early 2013
The NCD Alliance was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control, the International Diabetes Federation, the World Heart Federation, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; its mission is to combat the NCD epidemic by putting health at the center of all policies
The WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA) contains national and subnational surveillance data, policy documents, actions to implement policy, and examples of good practice in programs and interventions for the WHO European member states
PMCID: PMC3679005  PMID: 23776415
4.  Family Functioning: Associations with Weight Status, Eating Behaviors, and Physical Activity in Adolescents 
This paper examines the relationship between family functioning (e.g. communication, closeness, problem solving, behavioral control) and adolescent weight status and relevant eating and physical activity behaviors.
Data are from EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens), a population-based study that assessed eating and activity among socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse youth (n = 2,793). Adolescents (46.8% boys, 53.2% girls) completed anthropometric assessments and surveys at school in 2009–2010. Multiple linear regression was used to test the relationship between family functioning and adolescent weight, dietary intake, family meal patterns, and physical activity. Additional regression models were fit to test for interactions by race/ethnicity.
For adolescent girls, higher family functioning was associated with lower body mass index z-score and percent overweight, less sedentary behavior, higher intake of fruits and vegetables, and more frequent family meals and breakfast consumption. For adolescent boys, higher family functioning was associated with more physical activity, less sedentary behavior, less fast food consumption, and more frequent family meals and breakfast consumption. There was one significant interaction by race/ethnicity for family meals; the association between higher family functioning and more frequent family meals was stronger for non-white boys compared to white boys. Overall, strengths of associations tended to be small with effect sizes ranging from - 0.07 to 0.31 for statistically significant associations.
Findings suggest that family functioning may be protective for adolescent weight and weight-related health behaviors across all race/ethnicities, although assumptions regarding family functioning in the homes of overweight children should be avoided given small effect sizes.
PMCID: PMC3580029  PMID: 23299010
Family Functioning; Adolescent Obesity; Dietary Intake; Family Meals; Physical Activity
5.  Effect of Physical Inactivity on the Oxidation of Saturated and Monounsaturated Dietary Fatty Acids: Results of a Randomized Trial  
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(5):e27.
Changes in the way dietary fat is metabolized can be considered causative in obesity. The role of sedentary behavior in this defect has not been determined. We hypothesized that physical inactivity partitions dietary fats toward storage and that a resistance exercise training program mitigates storage.
We used bed rest, with randomization to resistance training, as a model of physical inactivity.
The trial took place at the Space Clinic (Toulouse, France).
A total of 18 healthy male volunteers, of mean age ± standard deviation 32.6 ± 4.0 y and body mass index 23.6 ± 0.7 kg/m2, were enrolled.
An initial 15 d of baseline data collection were followed by 3 mo of strict bed-rest alone (control group, n = 9) or with the addition of supine resistance exercise training every 3 d (exercise group, n = 9).
Outcome measures:
Oxidation of labeled [d31]palmitate (the main saturated fatty acid of human diet) and [1-13C]oleate (the main monounsaturated fatty acid), body composition, net substrate use, and plasma hormones and metabolites were measured.
Between-group comparisons showed that exercise training did not affect oxidation of both oleate (mean difference 5.6%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], −3.3% to 14.5%; p = 0.20) and palmitate (mean difference −0.2%; 95% CI, −4.1% to 3.6%; p = 0.89). Within-group comparisons, however, showed that inactivity changed oxidation of palmitate in the control group by −11.0% (95% CI, −19.0% to −2.9%; p = 0.01) and in the exercise group by −11.3% (95% CI, −18.4% to −4.2%; p = 0.008). In contrast, bed rest did not significantly affect oleate oxidation within groups. In the control group, the mean difference in oleate oxidation was 3.2% (95% CI, −4.2% to 10.5%; p = 0.34) and 6.8% (95% CI, −1.2% to 14.7%; p = 0.08) in the exercise group.
Independent of changes in energy balance (intake and/or output), physical inactivity decreased the oxidation of saturated but not monounsaturated dietary fat. The effect is apparently not compensated by resistance exercise training. These results suggest that Mediterranean diets should be recommended in sedentary subjects and recumbent patients.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Obesity is an important contributor to the burden of chronic diseases, particularly type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke. Being inactive is a risk factor for all of these conditions. However, the physiological effects of inactivity are not well understood. In this trial, supported by the European Space Agency, a group of researchers aimed to further understand the effects of physical inactivity on the way that fat from the diet is metabolized (i.e., broken down to generate energy). 18 healthy male volunteers were randomized into two groups, both of whom underwent 90 days of bed rest, aiming to mimic sedentary behavior. One group also received an exercise training program during the 90 days' bed rest. The researchers examined to what extent two different types of fatty acids common in the diet were metabolized over the duration of the trial: oleate (monounsaturated fat) and palmitate (saturated fat). As secondary objectives of the study, body weight, water, fat, and energy expenditure were also examined in the participants.
What this trial shows: The researchers did not see any statistically significant changes between the groups—that is, participants receiving bed rest, and those receiving bed rest plus exercise training—for any of the primary or secondary outcomes, except for resting metabolic rate, which was higher in the exercise group. However, they did see physiologically relevant changes in fat metabolism of one of the fatty acids, palmitate, over the course of the trial within both groups studied. Although metabolism of oleate (monounsaturated fat) did not show significant changes over the course of the trial, metabolism of palmitate (saturated fat) dropped by nearly 10% in both groups (bed rest, and bed rest plus exercise).
Strengths and limitations: The study design was appropriate to the questions being posed, and the techniques for examining fat metabolism were relevant. Although the number of participants was very small, this problem is true of many such studies due to the cost and complexity of the interventions. The model for inactivity used in this trial—90 days' bed rest—is very extreme. Very few studies of this type have been performed, with most of the evidence relating to activity and fat handling coming from training studies in otherwise sedentary people.
Contribution to the evidence: It is already known that physical activity has numerous health benefits, including the prevention of obesity. This trial provides data showing that inactivity lowers the ability to metabolize fat, specifically saturated fat, from the diet, which would therefore be more likely to be stored in the body.
PMCID: PMC1584255  PMID: 17016547
6.  Perceived Environmental Church Support is Associated with Dietary Practices among African American Adults 
A unique strength of the African American community is the importance of the church and faith. Interventions promoting health may want to build on these strengths by developing faith-based interventions that encourage churches to create an environment that supports behavior change.
To examine the relationship between perceived environmental church support for healthy eating and intake of fruit and vegetables and fat and fiber-related behaviors, and to examine if these relationships differ by gender.
A cross-sectional study in which participants completed self-report dietary and perceived church support measures prior to the initiation of an intervention. Relationships between fruit and vegetable consumption, fat and fiber-related behaviors, and perceived church support (total, written informational, spoken informational, instrumental [fruit and vegetable consumption only]), along with Support x Gender interactions were examined.
Participants were 1136 African American church members from four geographically-defined districts in South Carolina.
Statistical Analyses
Multiple regression models controlling for gender, age, years of education, health rating, and body mass index using SAS PROC MIXED. A separate model was conducted for each measure of perceived church support and each type of healthy eating index.
Perceived total church support and perceived written and spoken informational church support were related to significantly higher fruit and vegetable intake and more favorable fiber-related behaviors, whereas only perceived total and perceived written informational support were associated with more low-fat dietary behaviors. Perceived instrumental church support was not associated with fruit and vegetable consumption. No gender differences were found.
The social and physical church environment may be important factors influencing the dietary habits of its members. Future faith-based interventions should further explore the role of the church environment in improving the dietary practices of its members.
PMCID: PMC3103703  PMID: 21616203
Dietary Practices; Faith-based; African American Adults; Church Support
7.  The effects of a controlled worksite environmental intervention on determinants of dietary behavior and self-reported fruit, vegetable and fat intake 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:253.
Eating patterns in Western industrialized countries are characterized by a high energy intake and an overconsumption of (saturated) fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt. Many chronic diseases are associated with unhealthy eating patterns. On the other hand, a healthy diet (low saturated fat intake and high fruit and vegetable intake) has been found important in the prevention of health problems, such as cancer and cardio-vascular disease (CVD). The worksite seems an ideal intervention setting to influence dietary behavior. The purpose of this study is to present the effects of a worksite environmental intervention on fruit, vegetable and fat intake and determinants of behavior.
A controlled trial that included two different governmental companies (n = 515): one intervention and one control company. Outcome measurements (short-fat list and fruit and vegetable questionnaire) took place at baseline and 3 and 12 months after baseline. The relatively modest environmental intervention consisted of product information to facilitate healthier food choices (i.e., the caloric (kcal) value of foods in groups of products was translated into the number of minutes to perform a certain (occupational) activity to burn these calories).
Significant changes in psychosocial determinants of dietary behavior were found; subjects at the intervention worksite perceived more social support from their colleagues in eating less fat. But also counter intuitive effects were found: at 12 months the attitude and self-efficacy towards eating less fat became less positive in the intervention group. No effects were found on self-reported fat, fruit and vegetable intake.
This environmental intervention was modestly effective in changing behavioral determinant towards eating less fat (social support, self-efficacy and attitude), but ineffective in positively changing actual fat, fruit and vegetable intake of office workers.
PMCID: PMC1626462  PMID: 17044935
8.  The Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Program 
American journal of preventive medicine  2013;44(2):10.1016/j.amepre.2012.09.062.
Faith-based interventions hold promise for promoting health in ethnic minority populations. To date, however, few of these interventions have used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, have targeted both physical activity and healthy eating, and have focused on structural changes in the church.
To report the results of a group randomized CBPR intervention targeting physical activity and healthy eating in African-American churches.
Group RCT. Data were collected from 2007 to 2011. Statistical analyses were conducted in 2012.
Seventy-four African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches in South Carolina and 1257 members within them participated in the study.
Churches were randomized to an immediate (intervention) or delayed (control) 15-month intervention that targeted organizational and environmental changes consistent with the structural ecologic model. A CBPR approach guided intervention development. Intervention churches attended a full-day committee training and a full-day cook training. They also received a stipend and 15 months of mailings and technical assistance calls to support intervention implementation.
Main outcome measures
Primary outcomes were self-reported moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption, and measured blood pressure. Secondary outcomes were self-reported fat- and fiber-related behaviors. Measurements were taken at baseline and 15 months. Intent-to-treat repeated measures ANOVA tested group X time interactions, controlling for church clustering, wave, and size, and participant age, gender, and education. Post hoc ANCOVAs were conducted with measurement completers.
There was a significant effect favoring the intervention group in self-reported leisure-time MVPA (d=0.18, p=0.02), but no effect for other outcomes. ANCOVA analyses showed an intervention effect for self-reported leisure-time MVPA (d=0.17, p=0.03) and self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption (d=0.17, p=0.03). Trainings were evaluated very positively (training evaluation item means of 4.2–4.8 on a 5-point scale).
This faith-based structural intervention using a CBPR framework showed small but significant increases in self-reported leisure-time MVPA. This program has potential for broad-based dissemination and reach.
Trial registration
This study is registered at NCT00379925.
PMCID: PMC3884828  PMID: 23332327
9.  Covariation of Adolescent Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors over 12-Months 
This study examined covariation among changes in dietary, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors over 12 months among adolescents participating in a health behavior intervention. Evidence of covariation among behaviors would suggest multi-behavior interventions could have synergistic effects.
Prospective analyses were conducted with baseline and 12 month assessments from a randomized controlled trial to promote improved diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviors (experimental condition) or SUN protection behaviors (comparison condition). Participants were adolescent girls and boys (N = 878) aged 11 to 15 years on entry. The main outcomes were: diet, based on multiple 24-hour recalls (total fat, grams of fiber, servings of fruit and vegetables, total calories); average daily energy expenditure (kcals/kg) based on 7-Day physical activity recall interviews; daily minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity minutes from accelerometery; and self-reported daily hours of sedentary behavior.
Covariation was found between fat and calories (r = .16), fiber and calories (r = .53), fiber and fruit/vegetables (r = .53), calories and fruit/vegetables (r = .34), and fruit and vegetables and sedentary behavior (r = -.12) for the total sample (all p < .01). The pattern of findings was similar for most subgroups defined by sex and study condition.
The strongest covariation was observed for diet variables that are inherently related (calories and fat, fiber, and fruit/vegetables). Little covariation was detected within or between other diet, physical activity and sedentary behavior domains suggesting that interventions to improve these behaviors in adolescents need to include specific program components for each target behavior of interest.
PMCID: PMC2121661  PMID: 17950167
10.  Association of breakfast intake with obesity, dietary and physical activity behavior among urban school-aged adolescents in Delhi, India: results of a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:881.
In developed countries, regular breakfast consumption is inversely associated with excess weight and directly associated with better dietary and improved physical activity behaviors. Our objective was to describe the frequency of breakfast consumption among school-going adolescents in Delhi and evaluate its association with overweight and obesity as well as other dietary, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors.
Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Eight schools (Private and Government) of Delhi in the year 2006. Participants: 1814 students from 8th and 10th grades; response rate was 87.2%; 55% were 8th graders, 60% were boys and 52% attended Private schools. Main outcome measures: Body mass index, self-reported breakfast consumption, diet and physical activity related behaviors, and psychosocial factors. Data analysis: Mixed effects regression models were employed, adjusting for age, gender, grade level and school type (SES).
Significantly more Government school (lower SES) students consumed breakfast daily as compared to Private school (higher SES) students (73.8% vs. 66.3%; p<0.01). More 8th graders consumed breakfast daily vs.10th graders (72.3% vs. 67.0%; p<0.05). A dose–response relationship was observed such that overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents who consumed breakfast daily (14.6%) was significantly lower vs. those who only sometimes (15.2%) or never (22.9%) consumed breakfast (p<0.05 for trend). This relationship was statistically significant for boys (15.4 % vs. 16.5% vs. 26.0; p<0.05 for trend) but not for girls. Intake of dairy products, fruits and vegetables was 5.5 (95% CI 2.4-12.5), 1.7 (95% CI 1.1-2.5) and 2.2 (95% CI 1.3-3.5) times higher among those who consumed breakfast daily vs. those who never consumed breakfast. Breakfast consumption was associated with greater physical activity vs. those who never consumed breakfast. Positive values and beliefs about healthy eating; body image satisfaction; and positive peer and parental influence were positively associated with daily breakfast consumption, while depression was negatively associated.
Daily breakfast consumption is associated with less overweight and obesity and with healthier dietary- and physical activity-related behaviors among urban Indian students. Although prospective studies should confirm the present results, intervention programs to prevent or treat childhood obesity in India should consider emphasizing regular breakfast consumption.
PMCID: PMC3549919  PMID: 23075030
Breakfast; Obesity; Adolescent; Diet; Physical activity; Behavior
11.  Self-Reported Dietary Intake Following Endurance, Resistance and Concurrent Endurance and Resistance Training 
With regards to obesity-related disease the impact of exercise training on health depends on the ability of exercise to promote a negative energy balance. Exercise's effect on promoting a negative energy balance is more likely to occur if exercise can induce a favourable dietary intake such as a reduced relative fat content in the diet. As such, the aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of aerobic training, weight training and concurrent aerobic and weight training on self-reported dietary intake. The effects of 16 weeks of aerobic (n = 12), weight (n = 13) and concurrent aerobic and weight training (n = 13) on self-reported dietary intakes were compared in previously sedentary males using the computer-based Dietary Manager® software programme. Only the concurrent aerobic and weight training group showed significant (p ≤ 0.05) reductions in total kilocalories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats consumed while the aerobic training group showed significant reductions in fat intake at the completion of the experimental period (before: 91.0 ± 42.1g versus after: 77.1 ± 62.1g). However, no changes were observed in self-reported dietary intake in the weight training or non-exercising control groups. It is concluded that concurrent aerobic and weight training is the most effective mode of exercise at promoting a favourable improvement in self-reported dietary intake in the short term. This finding provides support for efforts to promote increases in overall physical activity in an attempt to modify the patterns of dietary intake.
Key pointsConcurrent aerobic and weight training can significantly reduce the amount of total kilocalories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats consumed.Aerobic training can significantly reduce fat intake.Weight training resulted in no changes in dietary intake.Concurrent aerobic and weight training is the most effective mode of exercise at promoting a favourable improvement in self-reported dietary intake.
PMCID: PMC3761454  PMID: 24149458
Kilocalories; carbohydrate; diet; exercise; fat; protein
12.  Development of Alive! (A Lifestyle Intervention Via Email), and Its Effect on Health-related Quality of Life, Presenteeism, and Other Behavioral Outcomes: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Cost-effective interventions to improve diet and physical activity are a public health priority. Alive! is an email-based intervention to increase physical activity, reduce saturated and trans fats and added sugars, and increase fruit and vegetable consumption. It was shown to improve these behaviors in a large randomized controlled trial.
(1) To describe the components and behavioral principles underlying Alive!, and (2) to report effects of the intervention on the secondary outcomes: health-related quality of life, presenteeism, self-efficacy, and stage of change.
The Alive! behavior change model is designed to elicit healthy behaviors and promote their maintenance. Behavioral strategies include assessments followed by individualized feedback, weekly goal-setting, individually tailored goals and tips, reminders, and promotion of social support. Alive! was tested among non-medical employees of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, who were randomized to either the intervention group or the wait-list control group. After randomization, intervention group participants chose one topic to undertake for the intervention period: increasing physical activity, increasing fruits and vegetables, or decreasing saturated and trans fats and added sugars. Pre-post questionnaires assessed changes in SF-8 health-related quality of life, presenteeism, self-efficacy, and stage of change. Mixed effects multiple linear regression and ordinal logistic regression models were used, with department as a random effect factor. Analyses were by intention to treat: the 30% (238/787) who did not respond to the follow-up questionnaires were assigned change scores of zero.
Participants were 19 to 65 years (mean 44.0 +/- 10.6), and 74.3% (585/787) were female. Mean SF-8 Physical quality of life score increased significantly more in the intervention group than in the control group, 1.84 (95% CI 0.96-2.72) vs 0.72 (95% CI -0.15-1.58) respectively, P = .02. SF8 Mental score also improved significantly more in the intervention group than in the control group (P = .02). The odds ratio for improvement in self-assessed health status was 1.57 (95% CI 1.21-2.04, P < .001) for the intervention group compared to the control group. The odds ratio for having a reduction in difficulty accomplishing work tasks because of physical or emotional problems, a measure of presenteeism, was 1.47 (95% CI 1.05-2.05, P = .02) for the intervention group compared to the control group. The odds of having an improvement in self-efficacy for changing diet was 2.05 (95% CI 1.44-2.93) for the intervention vs the control group (P < .001). Greater improvement in stage of change for physical activity (P = .05), fats (P = .06), and fruits/vegetables (P = .006) was seen in the intervention group compared to the control group. Significant effects on diet and physical activity behavior change are reported elsewhere.
Cost-effective methods that can reach large populations with science-based interventions are urgently needed. Alive! is a fully automated low-cost intervention shown to effect significant improvements in important health parameters.
Trial Registration NCT00607009; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC2629370  PMID: 19019818
Physical activity; diet; randomized controlled trial; evidence-based medicine; intervention studies; occupational health; community health services; employer health costs; health promotion; preventive health services
13.  Food Pricing Strategies, Population Diets, and Non-Communicable Disease: A Systematic Review of Simulation Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001353.
A systematic review of simulation studies conducted by Helen Eyles and colleagues examines the association between food pricing strategies and food consumption and health and disease outcomes.
Food pricing strategies have been proposed to encourage healthy eating habits, which may in turn help stem global increases in non-communicable diseases. This systematic review of simulation studies investigates the estimated association between food pricing strategies and changes in food purchases or intakes (consumption) (objective 1); Health and disease outcomes (objective 2), and whether there are any differences in these outcomes by socio-economic group (objective 3).
Methods and Findings
Electronic databases, Internet search engines, and bibliographies of included studies were searched for articles published in English between 1 January 1990 and 24 October 2011 for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Where ≥3 studies examined the same pricing strategy and consumption (purchases or intake) or health outcome, results were pooled, and a mean own-price elasticity (own-PE) estimated (the own-PE represents the change in demand with a 1% change in price of that good). Objective 1: pooled estimates were possible for the following: (1) taxes on carbonated soft drinks: own-PE (n = 4 studies), −0.93 (range, −0.06, −2.43), and a modelled −0.02% (−0.01%, −0.04%) reduction in energy (calorie) intake for each 1% price increase (n = 3 studies); (2) taxes on saturated fat: −0.02% (−0.01%, −0.04%) reduction in energy intake from saturated fat per 1% price increase (n = 5 studies); and (3) subsidies on fruits and vegetables: own-PE (n = 3 studies), −0.35 (−0.21, −0.77). Objectives 2 and 3: variability of food pricing strategies and outcomes prevented pooled analyses, although higher quality studies suggested unintended compensatory purchasing that could result in overall effects being counter to health. Eleven of 14 studies evaluating lower socio-economic groups estimated that food pricing strategies would be associated with pro-health outcomes. Food pricing strategies also have the potential to reduce disparities.
Based on modelling studies, taxes on carbonated drinks and saturated fat and subsidies on fruits and vegetables would be associated with beneficial dietary change, with the potential for improved health. Additional research into possible compensatory purchasing and population health outcomes is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
For the first time in human history, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are killing more people than infectious diseases. Every year, more than 35 million people die from NCDs—nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. More than 80% of these deaths are in developing countries, where a third of NCD-related deaths occur in people younger than 60 years old. And NCDs are not just a growing global public health emergency. They are also financially costly because they reduce productivity and increase calls on health care systems worldwide. Cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and circulation such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases (long-term diseases that affect the lungs and airways) are responsible for most NCD-related illnesses and death. The main behavioral risk factors for all these diseases are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets (diets that have a low fruit and vegetable intake and high saturated fat and salt intakes).
Why Was This Study Done?
Improvements in population diets and reductions in salt intake are crucial for the control and prevention of NCDs, but how can these behavioral changes be encouraged? One potential but poorly studied strategy is food pricing—the introduction of taxes on unhealthy foods (for example, foods containing high levels of saturated fat) and subsidies on healthy foods (for example, foods high in fiber). However, although a tax on soft drinks, for example, might decrease purchases of these high-sugar drinks, it might also increase purchases of fruit juices, which contain just as much sugar and energy as soft drinks (“compensatory purchasing”), and thus undermine the intended health impact of the tax. Because randomized controlled trials of the effects of food pricing strategies are difficult to undertake, many researchers have turned to mathematical models (sets of equations that quantify relationships between interventions and outcomes) to provide the evidence needed to inform policy decisions on food taxes and subsidies. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), Helen Eyles and colleagues investigate the association between food pricing strategies and food consumption and NCDs by analyzing the results of published mathematical modeling studies of food pricing interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 studies that met their predefined inclusion criteria, which included publication by researchers in a member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (a group of largely developed countries that promotes global development). Most of the studies were of low to moderate quality and provided uncertain and varying estimates of the impact of pricing on food consumption. Where three or more studies examined the same pricing strategy and consumption or health outcome, the researchers calculated the average change in demand for a food in response to changes in its price (“own-price elasticity”). For taxes on carbonated soft drinks, the average own-price elasticity was −0.93; that is, the models predicted that a 1% increase in the price of soft drinks would decrease consumption by 0.93%. The modeled reduction in the proportion of energy intake from saturated fat resulting from a 1% increase in the price of saturated fats was 0.02%. Finally, although the researchers' analysis suggested that for each 1% reduction in the price of fruits and vegetables, consumption would increase by 0.35%, they also found evidence that such a subsidy might result in compensatory purchasing, such as a reduction in fish purchases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that pricing strategies have the potential to produce improvements in population diets, at least in developed countries, but also highlight the need for more research in this area. Notably, the researchers found insufficient data to allow them to quantify the effects of pricing strategies on health or to analyze whether the effect of pricing strategies is likely vary between socio-economic groups. Given their findings, the researchers suggest that future modeling studies should include better assessments of the unintended effects of compensatory purchasing and should examine the potential impact of food pricing strategies on long-term health and NCD-related deaths. Finally, they suggest that robust evaluations should be built into the implementation of food pricing policies to answer some of the outstanding questions about this potential strategy for reducing the global burden of NCDs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living, on chronic diseases and health promotion, and on non-communicable diseases around the world
The Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle-income countries reduce NCD-related illnesses and death through implementation of the 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (also available in French); NCDnet's Face to face with chronic disease webpage is a selection of personal stories from around the world about dealing with NCDs
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society provide information on many important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and include some personal stories about keeping healthy
PMCID: PMC3519906  PMID: 23239943
14.  Physical activity, sedentary behaviors and dietary habits among Saudi adolescents relative to age, gender and region 
Few lifestyle factors have been simultaneously studied and reported for Saudi adolescents. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to report on the prevalence of physical activity, sedentary behaviors and dietary habits among Saudi adolescents and to examine the interrelationships among these factors using representative samples drawn from three major cities in Saudi Arabia.
This school-based cross-sectional study was conducted during the years 2009-2010 in three cities: Al-Khobar, Jeddah and Riyadh. The participants were 2908 secondary-school males (1401) and females (1507) aged 14-19 years, randomly selected using a multistage stratified sampling technique. Measurements included weight, height, sedentary behaviors (TV viewing, playing video games and computer use), physical activity using a validated questionnaire and dietary habits.
A very high proportion (84% for males and 91.2% for females) of Saudi adolescents spent more than 2 hours on screen time daily and almost half of the males and three-quarters of the females did not meet daily physical activity guidelines. The majority of adolescents did not have a daily intake of breakfast, fruit, vegetables and milk. Females were significantly (p < 0.05) more sedentary, much less physically active, especially with vigorous physical activity, and there were fewer days per week when they consumed breakfast, fruit, milk and diary products, sugar-sweetened drinks, fast foods and energy drinks than did males. However, the females' intake of French fries and potato chips, cakes and donuts, and candy and chocolate was significantly (p < 0.05) higher than the males'. Screen time was significantly (p < 0.05) correlated inversely with the intake of breakfast, vegetables and fruit. Physical activity had a significant (p < 0.05) positive relationship with fruit and vegetable intake but not with sedentary behaviors.
The high prevalence of sedentary behaviors, physical inactivity and unhealthy dietary habits among Saudi adolescents is a major public health concern. There is an urgent need for national policy promoting active living and healthy eating and reducing sedentary behaviors among children and adolescents in Saudi Arabia.
PMCID: PMC3339333  PMID: 22188825
Physical activity; sedentary behaviors; dietary habits; lifestyle factors; adolescents; Saudi Arabia
15.  Multiple Behavior Change in Diet and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial Using Mobile Technology 
Archives of Internal Medicine  2012;172(10):789-796.
Many patients exhibit multiple chronic disease risk behaviors. Research provides little information about advice that can maximize simultaneous health behavior changes.
To test which combination of diet and activity advice maximizes healthy change, we randomized 204 adults with elevated saturated fat and low fruit/vegetable intakes, high sedentary leisure time and low physical activity to one of four treatments: increase fruit/vegetable and physical activity; decrease fat and sedentary leisure; decrease fat and increase physical activity; increase fruit/vegetable and decrease sedentary leisure. Treatments provided three weeks of remote coaching supported by mobile decision support technology and financial incentives. During treatment, incentives were contingent on using the mobile device to self-monitor and attain behavioral targets; during follow-up they were contingent only on recording. The outcome was standardized, composite improvement on the four diet and activity behaviors at end of treatment and five month follow-up.
Of those randomized, 200 (98%) completed follow-up. The increase fruit/vegetable and decrease sedentary leisure treatment improved more than the other 3 treatments (p<.001). Specifically, fruit/vegetables increased from 1.2 servings/day to 5.5; sedentary leisure decreased from 219.2 minutes/day to 89.3; saturated fat decreased from 12.0% of calories consumed to 9.5%. Differences between treatment groups were maintained through follow-up. Traditional dieting (decrease fat and increase physical activity) improved less than the other 3 treatments (p<.001).
Remote coaching supported by mobile technology and financial incentives holds promise to improve diet and activity. Targeting fruits/vegetables and sedentary leisure together maximizes overall adoption and maintenance of multiple healthy behavior changes.
PMCID: PMC3402206  PMID: 22636824
16.  Are Diet and Physical Activity Patterns Related to Cigarette Smoking in Adolescents? Findings From Project EAT 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2007;4(3):A51.
An inadequate diet and physical inactivity may compound the many deleterious effects of smoking on health. Some research indicates that smoking behavior is related to other health behaviors, but little research has examined how smoking may be related to dietary intake of key nutrients, consumption of fast food, sedentary lifestyle, or weight status. The purpose of this study was to describe smoking frequency among adolescents and its relationship to physical activity and dietary patterns.
The research study employed a cross-sectional, population-based design. Adolescents self-reported cigarette smoking, physical activity, and eating behaviors on the Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) survey and reported dietary intake on a food frequency questionnaire completed in school classrooms. The sample included 4746 middle school and high school students from Minneapolis-St. Paul public schools. Mixed-model regression, which was controlled for sex, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, grade level (middle school or high school), and school, was used to examine the association of smoking with diet and physical activity patterns.
Overall, reported smoking frequency was inversely related to participating in team sports, eating regular meals, and consuming healthful foods and nutrients. Smoking frequency was directly related to frequency of fast-food and soft drink consumption.
Adolescents who smoke cigarettes may be less likely to engage in health-promoting lifestyle behaviors. Interventions are needed to prevent smoking and the unhealthy dietary practices and physical activity behaviors that may be associated with it.
PMCID: PMC1955390  PMID: 17572955
17.  Daily Self-Monitoring of Body Weight, Step Count, Fruit/Vegetable Intake and Water Consumption: A Feasible and Effective Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance Approach 
Maintenance of weight loss remains a challenge for most individuals, thus practical and effective weight loss maintenance (WTLM) strategies are needed. A two-group (WEV versus WEV+) 12-month WTLM intervention trial was conducted (June 2007–February 2010) to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of weight loss maintenance intervention for older adults using daily self-monitoring of body weight, step count, fruit/vegetable intake and water consumption. Forty weight-reduced (mean weight lost = 6.7 ± 0.6 kg; BMI 29.2 ± 1.1 kg/m2) individuals aged 63 ± 1 yrs, who had previously participated in a 12-week randomized controlled weight loss intervention trial, were instructed to record daily body weight (Weight), step count (Exercise), and fruit/vegetable intake (Vegetable). Experimental group (WEV+) participants were also instructed to consume 16 floz of water before each main meal (i.e., three times daily), and to record daily water intake. Outcome measures included weight change, diet/physical activity behaviors, theoretical constructs related to health behaviors, and other clinical measures. Statistical analyses included growth curve analyses and repeated measures ANOVA. Over 12 months, there was a linear decline in weight (β = −0.32, P < 0.001) and a quadratic trend (β = 0.02, P < 0.01) over time, but no group difference (β = −0.23, P = 0.08). Analysis of the 365 days of self-reported body weight for each participant determined that weight loss was greater over the study period in WEV+ than WEV, corresponding to weight changes of −0.67 kg and 1.00 kg respectively, and an 87% greater weight loss (β = −0.01, P < 0.01). Overall compliance to daily tracking was 76 ± 5%. Daily self-monitoring of weight, physical activity, and fruit/vegetable consumption is a feasible and effective approach for maintaining weight loss for 12 months, and daily self-monitoring of increased water consumption may provide additional WTLM benefits.
PMCID: PMC3378982  PMID: 22709772
Weight Loss Maintenance; Water; Self-Regulation; Physical Activity; Fruits and Vegetables
18.  A parent focused child obesity prevention intervention improves some mother obesity risk behaviors: the Melbourne inFANT Program 
The diets, physical activity and sedentary behavior levels of both children and adults in Australia are suboptimal. The family environment, as the first ecological niche of children, exerts an important influence on the onset of children’s habits. Parent modeling is one part of this environment and a logical focus for child obesity prevention initiatives. The focus on parent’s own behaviors provides a potential opportunity to decrease obesity risk behaviors in parents as well.
To assess the effect of a parent-focused early childhood obesity prevention intervention on first-time mothers’ diets, physical activity and TV viewing time.
The Melbourne InFANT Program is a cluster-randomized controlled trial which involved 542 mothers over their newborn’s first 18 months of life. The intervention focused on parenting skills and strategies, including parental modeling, and aimed to promote development of healthy child and parent behaviors from birth, including healthy diet, increased physical activity and reduced TV viewing time. Data regarding mothers’ diet (food frequency questionnaire), physical activity and TV viewing times (self-reported questionnaire) were collected using validated tools at both baseline and post-intervention. Four dietary patterns were derived at baseline using principal components analyses including frequencies of 55 food groups. Analysis of covariance was used to measure the impact of the intervention.
The scores of both the "High-energy snack and processed foods" and the "High-fat foods" dietary patterns decreased more in the intervention group: -0.22 (−0.42;-0.02) and −0.25 (−0.50;-0.01), respectively. No other significant intervention vs. control effects were observed regarding total physical activity, TV viewing time, and the two other dietary patterns, i.e. “Fruits and vegetables” and “Cereals and sweet foods”.
These findings suggest that supporting first-time mothers to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors in their infants impacts maternal dietary intakes positively. Further research needs to assess ways in which we might further enhance those lifestyle behaviors not impacted by the InFANT intervention.
PMCID: PMC3533722  PMID: 22925356
Dietary pattern; Physical activity; TV viewing; Randomized controlled trial; Mothers
19.  Dietary behaviors and portion sizes of Black women who enrolled in SisterTalk and variation by demographic characteristics 
To describe the dietary behaviors of Black women who enrolled in the SisterTalk weight control study.
Baseline data collected via telephone survey and in-person screening.
Boston, MA and surrounding areas.
A total of 461 Black women completed the baseline.
Variables Measured
Measured height and weight; self reported demographics, risk factors, and dietary variables including fat-related eating behaviors, food portion size, fruit, vegetable, and beverage intake.
Descriptive analyses for demographic, risk factors and dietary variables; ANOVA models with Food Habits Questionnaire (FHQ) scores as the dependent variable and demographic categories as the independent variables; ANOVA models with individual FHQ item scores as the dependent variable, and ethnic identification as the independent variable.
The data indicate a low prevalence of many fat lowering behaviors. More than 60% reported eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Self-reported portion sizes were large for most foods. Older age, being born outside the US, living without children and being retired were significantly associated with a higher prevalence of fat-lowering behaviors. The frequency of specific fat-lowering behaviors and portion size also differed by ethnic identification.
Conclusions and Implications
The findings support the need for culturally appropriate interventions to improve the dietary intake of Black Americans. Further studies should examine the dietary habits, food preparation methods and portion sizes of diverse groups of Black women and how such habits may differ by demographics.
PMCID: PMC2657871  PMID: 19161918
Women; Black; African American; dietary habits; eating habits; fat; portion size; fruit and vegetable
20.  Reducing Diabetes Risk in American Indian Women 
American Indians experience high rates of type 2 diabetes. The impact of low-intensity interventions on diabetes risk among young American Indian women is unknown.
Randomized controlled trial
Community-based; participants were 200 young urban American Indian women who were block-randomized on fasting blood glucose (FBG) into intervention and control groups. Inclusion criteria included self-reported identity, aged 18–40 years, not pregnant, willingness to stay in urban area for 2 years, and not having type 2 diabetes. Measures were taken at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months. Data were gathered 2002–2006 and analyzed 2006–2007.
Five discussion group sessions (one meeting per month for five months) were held focusing on healthful eating, physical activity, goal-setting, and social support..
Main Outcome Measures
Primary outcomes included dietary fat and vegetable consumption and self-reported physical activity. Secondary outcomes included cardiorespiratory fitness, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lipid profiles, percent body fat, BMI, intake of fruit, total sugar and sweetened beverages, FBG, and television viewing.
Mean vegetable and fruit intake increased significantly more in the intervention group than in the control group over time (group by visit interaction, p=0.02 and p=0.002, respectively). Both groups had significant increases in percent body fat and decreases in waist circumference, insulin sensitivity, blood cholesterol, LDL, television viewing, and total intakes of energy, saturated fat, sugar, and sweetened beverages.
A culturally influenced, low-intensity lifestyle intervention can improve self-reported intakes of vegetables and fruit over 18 months in young, urban American Indian women.
PMCID: PMC2275812  PMID: 18312806
21.  Weight, physical activity and dietary behavior change in young mothers: short term results of the HeLP-her cluster randomized controlled trial 
Nutrition Journal  2009;8:17.
Preventing weight gain rather than treating established obesity is an important economic and public health response to the rapidly increasing rates of obesity worldwide. Treatment of established obesity is complex and costly requiring multiple resources. Preventing weight gain potentially requires fewer resources to reach broad population groups, yet there is little evidence for successful interventions to prevent weight gain in the community. Women with children are an important target group because of high rates of weight gain and the potential to influence the health behaviors in family members.
The aim of this cluster randomized controlled trial was to evaluate the short term effect of a community-based self-management intervention to prevent weight gain. Two hundred and fifty mothers of young children (mean age 40 years ± 4.5, BMI 27.9 kg/m2 ± 5.6) were recruited from the community in Melbourne, Australia. The intervention group (n = 127) attended four interactive group sessions over 4 months, held in 12 local primary schools in 2006, and was compared to a group (n = 123) receiving a single, non-interactive, health education session. Data collection included self-reported weight (both groups), measured weight (intervention only), self-efficacy, dietary intake and physical activity.
Mean measured weight decreased significantly in the intervention group (-0.78 kg 95% CI; -1.22 to -0.34, p < 0.001). Comparing groups using self-reported weight, both the intervention and comparison groups decreased weight, -0.75 kg (95% CI; -1.57 to 0.07, p = 0.07) and -0.72 kg (95% CI; -1.59 to 0.14 p = 0.10) respectively with no significant difference between groups (-0.03 kg, 95% CI; -1.32 to 1.26, p = 0.95). More women lost or maintained weight in the intervention group. The intervention group tended to have the greatest effect in those who were overweight at baseline and in those who weighed themselves regularly. Intervention women who rarely self-weighed gained weight (+0.07 kg) and regular self-weighers lost weight (-1.66 kg) a difference of -1.73 kg (95% CI; -3.35 to -0.11 p = 0.04). The intervention reported increased physical activity although the difference between groups did not reach significance. Both groups reported replacing high fat foods with low fat alternatives and self-efficacy deteriorated in the comparison group only.
Both a single health education session and interactive behavioral intervention will result in a similar weight loss in the short term, although more participants in the interactive intervention lost or maintained weight. There were small non-significant changes to physical activity and changes to fat intake specifically replacing high fat foods with low fat alternatives such as fruit and vegetables. Self-monitoring appears to enhance weight loss when part of an intervention.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2683875  PMID: 19409085
22.  Combined Impact of Health Behaviours and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e12.
There is overwhelming evidence that behavioural factors influence health, but their combined impact on the general population is less well documented. We aimed to quantify the potential combined impact of four health behaviours on mortality in men and women living in the general community.
Methods and Findings
We examined the prospective relationship between lifestyle and mortality in a prospective population study of 20,244 men and women aged 45–79 y with no known cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline survey in 1993–1997, living in the general community in the United Kingdom, and followed up to 2006. Participants scored one point for each health behaviour: current non-smoking, not physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week) and plasma vitamin C >50 mmol/l indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day, for a total score ranging from zero to four. After an average 11 y follow-up, the age-, sex-, body mass–, and social class–adjusted relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for all-cause mortality(1,987 deaths) for men and women who had three, two, one, and zero compared to four health behaviours were respectively, 1.39 (1.21–1.60), 1.95 (1.70–-2.25), 2.52 (2.13–3.00), and 4.04 (2.95–5.54) p < 0.001 trend. The relationships were consistent in subgroups stratified by sex, age, body mass index, and social class, and after excluding deaths within 2 y. The trends were strongest for cardiovascular causes. The mortality risk for those with four compared to zero health behaviours was equivalent to being 14 y younger in chronological age.
Four health behaviours combined predict a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women, with an estimated impact equivalent to 14 y in chronological age.
From a large prospective population study, Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues estimate the combined impact of four behaviors--not smoking, not being physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake, and at least five vegetable servings a day--amounts to 14 additional years of life.
Editors' Summary
Every day, or so it seems, new research shows that some aspect of lifestyle—physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, and so on—affects health and longevity. For the person in the street, all this information is confusing. What is a healthy diet, for example? Although there are some common themes such as the benefit of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, the details often differ between studies. And exactly how much physical activity is needed to improve health? Is a gentle daily walk sufficient or simply a stepping stone to doing enough exercise to make a real difference? The situation with alcohol consumption is equally confusing. Small amounts of alcohol apparently improve health but large amounts are harmful. As a result, it can be hard for public-health officials to find effective ways to encourage the behavioral changes that the scientific evidence suggests might influence the health of populations.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is another factor that is hindering official attempts to provide healthy lifestyle advice to the public. Although there is overwhelming evidence that individual behavioral factors influence health, there is very little information about their combined impact. If the combination of several small differences in lifestyle could be shown to have a marked effect on the health of populations, it might be easier to persuade people to make behavioral changes to improve their health, particularly if those changes were simple and relatively easy to achieve. In this study, which forms part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), the researchers have examined the relationship between lifestyle and the risk of dying using a health behavior score based on four simply defined behaviors—smoking, physical activity, alcohol drinking, and fruit and vegetable intake.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1993 and 1997, about 20,000 men and women aged 45–79 living in Norfolk UK, none of whom had cancer or cardiovascular disease (heart or circulation problems), completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire, had a health examination, and had their blood vitamin C level measured as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study. A health behavior score of between 0 and 4 was calculated for each participant by giving one point for each of the following healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, not physically inactive (physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and doing no recreational exercise), moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week; a unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of spirit), and a blood vitamin C level consistent with a fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day. Deaths among the participants were then recorded until 2006. After allowing for other factors that might have affected their likelihood of dying (for example, age), people with a health behavior score of 0 were four times as likely to have died (in particular, from cardiovascular disease) than those with a score of 4. People with a score of 2 were twice as likely to have died.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the combination of four simply defined health behaviors predicts a 4-fold difference in the risk of dying over an average period of 11 years for middle-aged and older people. They also show that the risk of death (particularly from cardiovascular disease) decreases as the number of positive health behaviors increase. Finally, they can be used to calculate that a person with a health score of 0 has the same risk of dying as a person with a health score of 4 who is 14 years older. These findings need to be confirmed in other populations and extended to an analysis of how these combined health behaviors affect the quality of life as well as the risk of death. Nevertheless, they strongly suggest that modest and achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked effect on the health of populations. Armed with this information, public-health officials should now be in a better position to encourage behavior changes likely to improve the health of middle-aged and older people.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on healthy living (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus page on seniors' health contains links to many sites dealing with healthy lifestyles and longevity (in English and Spanish)
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study is investigating the relationship between nutrition and lifestyle and the development of cancer and other chronic diseases; information about the EPIC-Norfolk study is also available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on healthy aging for older adults, including information on health-related behaviors (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Age Concerns provides a fact sheet about staying healthy in later life
The London Health Observatory, which provides information for policy makers and practitioners about improving health and health care, has a section on how lifestyle and behavior affect health
PMCID: PMC2174962  PMID: 18184033
Dietary interventions with children often use self-reported data to assess efficacy despite that objective methods rarely support self-report findings in validation studies. This study compared fourth graders’ self-reported to observed lunch fruit and vegetable intake to determine if the accuracy of self-reported intake varied by treatment condition
Matched randomized follow-up design examined three treatment groups (high and low intensity interventions and control) post-intervention.
379 middle-school children participating in a randomized controlled trial of a school-based fruit and vegetable intervention were observed during school lunch one day and asked to recall intake the following day.
Main Outcome Measures
Food items were coded as: “match,” “omission,” or “intrusion.” Students were classified as “accurate” if all food items matched, otherwise “inaccurate.” Matched foods’ portions were compared for accuracy. Servings were computed for total fruit and vegetable intake.
Accuracy for fruits and vegetables were compared in separate analyses and tested for multiple potential associates: treatment condition, gender, race, BMI, subsidized meal eligibility, school district, fruit/vegetable availability, age and test scores. Fitted multivariable regression models included variables found to be significant in univariate or chi square analyses.
Variables found to be significant for fruit item accuracy were availability at lunch, BMI, and subsidized lunch eligibility. For vegetable item accuracy, availability at lunch was significant. No differences were found for food portions or for efficacy of the intervention between the two methods of dietary data collection: observation and self-report.
Condition assignment did not bias recalled fruit and vegetable intakes among fourth graders.
PMCID: PMC2620190  PMID: 19103321
Intervention effects; Fruit and Vegetable; Accuracy of dietary self-report
24.  Scale Development: Factors Affecting Diet, Exercise, and Stress Management (FADESM) 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:76.
The objective of this study was to develop scales measuring personal and environmental factors that affect dietary fat intake behavior, physical activity, and stress management in low-income mothers.
FADESM (factors affecting diet, exercise, and stress management) scales were developed using the Social Cognitive Theory to measure personal (outcome expectancies, self-efficacy, emotional coping response) and environmental (physical environment, social environment, situation) factors affecting dietary fat intake behavior, physical activity, and stress management. Low-income African American and white mothers were recruited from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children in three counties in Michigan. In Phase one, 45 mothers completed individual cognitive interviews. Content analyses were performed. In Phase two, items modified from the cognitive interviews were administered to 216 mothers. Factor analysis and multiple indicators/multiple causes were performed.
Results of cognitive interviews were used to revise items for the instrument that was tested in Phase two. The factor solution revealed 19 dimensions to measure personal and environmental factors affecting dietary fat intake behavior (three dimensions), physical activity (eight dimensions), and stress management (eight dimensions). Results of multiple indicators/multiple causes model showed scale invariance. Of 19 dimensions, 15 had Cronbach alpha between 0.76 and 0.94 and four were between 0.66 and 0.69. All dimensions had composite construct reliability scores between 0.74 to 0.97 and satisfactory construct and discriminant validities.
The theory-based FADESM scales have documented good validity and reliability for measuring factors affecting dietary fat intake behavior, physical activity, and stress management in low-income women. Results of this study support the use of these scales with low-income African American and white mothers in community settings.
PMCID: PMC2266923  PMID: 18302762
25.  Effects of Parenting Style and Parent-Related Weight and Diet on Adolescent Weight Status 
Journal of Pediatric Psychology  2012;38(3):321-329.
Objective This study examined the interaction between parental limit setting of sedentary behaviors and health factors (weight status, physical activity [PA], fruit and vegetable [FV] intake) on standardized body mass index (zBMI) in African American adolescents. Methods Data were from 67 parent–adolescent dyads. Parental limit setting, PA and FV intake were assessed via self-report, and objective height and weight measurements were collected. Results Regressions examined the interaction between parental limit setting and BMI, PA, FV intake on adolescent zBMI. The model for parent BMI and FV intake accounted for 31% of the variance in adolescent zBMI. A significant interaction for parent BMI by limit setting showed that as parental BMI increased, higher (vs. lower) limit setting was associated with lower adolescent zBMI. Higher parent FV consumption was associated with lower adolescent zBMI. Conclusion Future interventions should integrate parent limit setting and target parent fruit and vegetable intake for obesity prevention in underserved adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3604826  PMID: 23248345
adolescent; health behavior; obesity; parenting style; parents

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