British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Effects on nutrient intake of a family-based intervention to promote increased consumption of low-fat starchy foods through education, cooking skills and personalised goal setting: the Family Food and Health Project

Peter J. Curtisa1a2, Ashley J. Adamsona1 and John C. Mathersa1 c1

a1 Institute for Ageing and Health, The Human Nutrition Research Centre, William Leech Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK

a2 Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK


Reducing the prevalence of fat-rich, energy-dense diets is a public health priority. The present parallel-designed randomised study compared three interventions aimed to increase intakes of low-fat starchy foods and to reduce fat intakes among 589 individuals from 169 families in the Family Food and Health Project (FFHP). Intervention A was education only, intervention B provided ‘cook and eat’ sessions only, whereas intervention C included personalised goal setting, ‘cook and eat’ and education. Diet was assessed at baseline (T0) and at 3 months (T1), 6 months (T2) and 18 months (T3) post-intervention. Retention rates were 75 % at T1, 63 % at T2 and 40 % at T3. ANCOVA (baseline intake as covariate) was assessed between intervention differences at T1, T2 and T3. At T1, individuals in intervention C consumed less fat (P = 0·02) and more total carbohydrate (P = 0·001), starch (P = 0·04) vitamin C (P = 0·002) and NSP (P = 0·01) than those in intervention A. Whereas similar dietary intakes were reported across interventions at T2, participants in intervention C had less energy-dense diets that contained more NSP and vitamin C at T3 than intervention A (P < 0·0001, P = 0·002 and P = 0·01, respectively). Across all intervention groups, the more socially deprived participants in the FFHP (n 119) consumed less fat (P = 0·01) and more total carbohydrate (P = 0·02) at T2 than the least socially deprived (n 240). These data demonstrate the importance of personalised goal setting to translate knowledge and practical cooking skills into healthier food choices, suggesting that low-fat starchy food-focused interventions may be effective in reducing fat intake.

(Received October 18 2010)

(Revised August 16 2011)

(Accepted August 16 2011)

(Online publication October 12 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor J. C. Mathers, fax +44 191 222 8943, email


Abbreviations: %FE, percentage of food energy; %TE, percentage of energy derived from food and alcohol; ED, enumeration district; FFHP, Family Food and Health Project; GLM, general linear ANCOVA model; SES, socioeconomic status; T0, baseline assessment; T1, 3 months post-intervention; T2, 6 months post-intervention; T3, 18 months post-intervention