a1 Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
a2 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Kallithea, Athens, Greece
a3 ‘Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development’ (GENUD) Research Group, EU Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
a4 Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Dortmund, Germany
a5 Department of Social Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
a6 Department of Pediatrics, Clinical Nutrition and Prevention, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
a7 Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden
a8 Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
a9 Research Foundation-Flanders, Belgium
Objective To investigate the feasibility and impact of the Food-O-Meter, an Internet-based computer-tailored nutrition intervention in adolescents.
Design Participants in the intervention condition received the computer-tailored advice at baseline and at 1 month, those in the control condition received standardised advice. Effects were evaluated at 1 month (n 621) and at 3 months (n 558) using multi-level modelling.
Setting Secondary schools in six European cities. Adolescents accessed the intervention in the school computer room under the supervision of teachers.
Subjects Classes with students aged 12–17 years in the schools participating in the HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) cross-sectional study were randomised into intervention and control schools.
Results In most participating centres the intervention was feasible and generally well appreciated, especially by girls. Technical problems and lack of motivation of the teachers hindered implementation in some centres. Overweight adolescents had higher scores for reading and using the advice than normal weight adolescents. After 1 month adolescents receiving the standardised advice reported an increase in fat intake, while fat intake in the intervention condition was stable (F = 4·82, P < 0·05). After 3 months, there was a trend in the total group for an intervention effect of the tailored advice on fat intake (F = 2·80, P < 0·10). In the overweight group there was a clear positive effect (F = 5·76, P < 0·05).
Conclusions The Food-O-Meter should be developed further. The results were modest but clear for percentage energy from fat, specifically in the overweight group. Adaptations based on new research are needed to enhance the reliability and effectiveness of the intervention.
(Received January 21 2010)
(Accepted November 23 2010)
(Online publication January 31 2011)
† See for members of the HELENA Study Group.