Programmes to improve eating habits

Henry Ford: Online programmes focusing on the benefits of fruits and vegetables inspire people to eat healthy, a study claims.

After a 12-month long study, researchers at Henry Ford Hospital insist providing information and tips about fruits and vegetables may be the key to getting more people to eat healthier. As part of the study, the experts recruited members of Health Alliance Plan and four other HMOs in Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis and Atlanta, ages 21 to 65.

The participants were divided in to three groups. A control online program that provided general information for the participants about improving their fruit and vegetable intake. A programme that was similar but personalised to the individual`s needs and, a programme that incorporated the other two components and was also supplemented with motivational interviewing counselling via e-mail.

The programmes included a total of four sessions. These sessions included four to five pages of core content, illustrations and optional links to more detailed information and special features designed to supplement session content, with special features illustrated serving sizes and nutritional similarities of fresh versus frozen versus canned foods. Apart from information on 300 fruit and vegetable-based recipes, the participant could also access short video and audio files.

At the end of the study, researchers noted improvement across all study groups, but the most significant changes were observed in the group that had motivational interviewing and counseling. Study co-author, Gwen Alexander, PhD, assistant research scientist, said, "We found that giving participants gentle reminders that refocused them on their goals greatly improved progress. They were being held accountable for their progress, which became a key motivator."

Also, Study senior author Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of Henry Ford`s Department of Biostatistics and Research Epidemiologym, added, "People already know the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, but they often don`t know how to incorporate them into their diet. That`s why our study worked. Using online programmes, we were able to offer study participants practical and easy tips to increase their daily fruit and vegetable intake."


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