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J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Jan;113(1):120-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.034. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Comparison of a web-based vs in-person nutrition education program for low-income adults.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


As access to computers and the Internet by the low-income population is increasing and the "digital divide" is slowly diminishing, other methods of delivering nutrition information to this audience are evolving. This randomized, block equivalence trial sought to determine whether web-based nutrition education could result in equivalent nutrition-related behavior outcomes when compared with traditional in-person nutrition education in low-income adults. A convenience sample of low-income adults (n=123) was randomized to receive in-person education (n=66) or web-based education (n=57) in a community setting within 14 counties of Indiana from April through December 2010. The web-based group received three nutrition education lessons (eg, fruits and vegetables, Nutrition Facts label reading, and whole grains) designed to replicate lessons received by the in-person group. Lessons were developed using Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Model. Self-reported nutrition-related behaviors were assessed using a previously validated survey for low-income adults. Most nutrition-related behavior outcomes (eg, fruit, vegetable, whole-grain intake, Nutrition Facts label use, breakfast, and meal-planning frequency) improved significantly (P<0.05) from pre to post within both groups, meaning that each intervention was effective. When these nutrition-related behavior improvements were compared between groups, the changes were statistically equivalent (P>0.05), except for one question about use of the Nutrition Facts label. Therefore, web-based nutrition education can lead to favorable and equivalent nutrition-related changes when compared with in-person delivery. Most (83%) web-based participants also reported willingness to use the website again. Future application of web-based interventions for low-income populations could broaden delivery reach, increase frequency and length of contacts, and possibly decrease costs.

Copyright © 2013 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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