“Reboot” for Healthier Results

Blood lipids suggest that online tailored nutrition advice is not effective

Philadelphia, PA, September 7, 2011 – As lifestyles get busier and waistlines get bigger, many people are turning to online nutrition programs. In promotion of healthful nutrition behaviors, computer-tailored nutrition education has been identified as a promising health education strategy, especially in the promotion of lower fat intake. However, a study in the September/October 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior reveals no evidence of the efficacy of such computer-tailorededucation using empirical data based on blood cholesterol and lipids.

Investigators from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands assessed 442 healthy Dutch adults to determine the effectiveness of a computer-tailored intervention aimed at the reduction of fat intake. Instead of just looking at self-reported dietary recalls to evaluate dietary fat intake, which can be skewed by portion size errors, underreporting, and socially desirable answers, the researchers evaluated a more reliable outcome -- blood lipids (total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides). The computer program aimed at reducing saturated fat intake had no effect on the blood values.

Drs. Willemieke Kroeze, PhD, and Johannes Brug, PhD, Assistant Professor and Professor, respectively, at the Vrije Universiteit, state, “Computer- tailored intervention with a single dose, aimed at reduction of (saturated) fat intake, for which meaningful effects based on self-reports have been reported, was not sufficient to produce detectable changes in blood lipids in the current study.” When asked how to improve outcomes from consulting online nutrition advice websites, Dr. Kroeze suggests exploring methods “to increase the feasibility of objectively assessing the impact of computer-tailored nutrition education interventions aimed at primary prevention in real-life settings. In addition, strategies should be developed to improve the intensity and duration of computer-tailored interventions, and to incorporate social interaction in the intervention.”

This study documents the importance of identifying key factors that influence an individual’s ability to change dietary behaviors especially through online nutrition education. It also illustrates the importance of critical evaluation of nutrition education efforts, as interventions often are developed online as a cost-savings and venue to increase the program’s reach.

The article is “Biomarker Evaluation Does Not Confirm Efficacy of Computer-tailored Nutrition Education” by Willemieke Kroeze, PhD; Pieter C. Dagnelie, PhD; Martijn W. Heymans, PhD; Anke Oenema, PhD; Johannes Brug, PhD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 43, Issue 3 (September/October 2011) published by Elsevier.

In an accompanying podcast, Willemieke Kroeze, PhD, discusses the results and implications this study. It is available at  www.jneb.org/content/podcast.
 

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Notes for editors
Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Francesca Costanzo at +1 215 239 3249orjnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Dr. Willemieke Kroeze by e-mail at willemieke.kroeze@falw.vu.nl or by phone at +31 20 59 87045, or Prof. Johannes Brug by e-mail at j.brug@vumc.nl or by phone at +31 20 444 8180.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Willemieke Kroeze, PhD (under embargo until September 7) and information specifically for journalists are located at  www.jneb.org/content/mediapodcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Francesca Costanzo to obtain permission.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior ( www.jneb.org)
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education (SNE), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence,and ClinicalKey—and publishes over 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

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Media contact
Francesca Costanzo
Elsevier
+1 215 239 3249
jnebmedia@elsevier.com