We all know that people should eat less saturated fat, but it can be hard to achieve changes in behaviour.
Rachel Huxley and colleagues from the George Institute for International Health in Sydney, Australia, wanted to find out whether dietary advice delivered through an internet shopping system could help people make healthier food choices.
They conducted a randomized trial, offering participants using an internet shopping system the chance to receive either general dietary advice (the trial's control) or tailored advice which prompted shoppers to replace items with alternatives lower in saturated fat.
The researchers found that participants receiving tailored advice bought foods containing less saturated fat, on average, than the participants only getting general advice. These results show that low-cost technologies delivered through the internet have the potential to motivate users to change their behaviour.
Rachel Huxley, from The George Institute of International Health and one of the authors of the study, says: "The great thing about this result is that it represents a simple, low cost step that food retailers could make now. We will be contacting each of the major Internet shopping operators in Australia to find out their interest in working with us to turn this research into reality. We hope that by publishing the article in an open access journal like PLoS the results will reach the maximum possible number of people, worldwide."
The results are published in PLoS Clinical Trials, an open-access journal that aims to increase the reporting of clinical trials. Steve Nissen, from the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA, and a member of the editorial board of PLoS Clinical Trials, says: "I applaud the commitment of PLoS Clinical Trials to provide open access to randomized clinical trial reports so that investigators throughout the world can freely examine the results of these studies."
Citation: Huang A, Barzi F, Huxley R, Denyer G, Rohrlach B, et al. (2006) The effects on saturated fat purchases of providing Internet shoppers with purchase-specific dietary advice: A randomised trial. PLoS Clin Trials 1(4): e22. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pctr.0010022)
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