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Am J Prev Med. 2008 Jun;34(6):514-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.01.034.

Using hand-held computer technologies to improve dietary intake.

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National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Behavioral Research Program, Health Promotion Research Branch, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Portable hand-held information technology offers much promise not only in assessing dietary intake in the real world, but also in providing dietary feedback to individuals. However, stringent research designs have not been employed to examine whether it can be effective in modifying dietary behaviors. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the efficacy of a hand-held computer (i.e., personal digital assistant [PDA]) for increasing vegetable and whole-grain intake over 8 weeks in mid-life and older adults, using a randomized study design.


Twenty-seven healthy adults aged > or =50 were randomized and completed the 8-week study. Intervention participants received an instructional session and a PDA programmed to monitor their vegetable and whole-grain intake levels twice per day and to provide daily individualized feedback, goal-setting, and support. Controls received standard, age-appropriate, written nutritional education materials. Dietary intake was assessed via the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire at baseline and 8 weeks.


Relative to controls, intervention participants reported significantly greater increases in vegetable servings (1.5-2.5 servings/day; p=0.02), as well as a trend toward greater intake of dietary fiber from grains (3.7-4.5 servings/day; p=0.10).


This study's findings provide preliminary evidence that using portable hand-held technology to provide daily individualized feedback on dietary behavior in the real world can increase the dietary intake of healthy food groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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