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Nutrients: "Technique with highest effectiveness for dietary change was habit formation (100%)"

Poor eating habits are common during young adulthood and influence chronic disease morbidity. This systematic review evaluates the effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve dietary intake among young adults and, identifies which behaviour change techniques (BCTs) are most effective. Six electronic databases were searched for RCTs published until October 2018, and evaluating behavioural interventions assessing change in dietary intake in young adults (17–35 years).

Of the 18,779 articles identified, 54 were included. Forty studies focused on fruit and/or vegetable intake, of which 63% showed a significant between-group difference in favour of the intervention group. Meta-analysis (n = 17) demonstrated a significant increase in fruit and vegetable intake of +68.6 g/day after three months of intervention and +65.8 g/day for interventions >3 months when compared to control. A meta-analysis (n = 5) on total energy intake found no significant differences between groups. The BCTs with the highest effectiveness ratio were habit formation (100%), salience of consequences (83%) and adding objects to the environment (70%). Link.

Citation: Ashton, L. M., Sharkey, T., Whatnall, M. C., Williams, R. L., Bezzina, A., Aguiar, E. J., ... & Hutchesson, M. J. (2019). Effectiveness of interventions and behaviour change techniques for improving dietary intake in young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs. Nutrients, 11(4), 825.


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