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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2008 Nov 21;5:59. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-5-59.

The effect of adding group-based counselling to individual lifestyle counselling on changes in dietary intake. The Inter99 study--a randomized controlled trial.

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Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup University Hospital, Building 84/85, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark.



Few studies have investigated the specific effect of single intervention components in randomized controlled trials. The purpose was to investigate the effect of adding group-based diet and exercise counselling to individual life-style counselling on long-term changes in dietary habits.


The study was a randomized controlled intervention study. From a general Danish population, aged 30 to 60 years (n = 61,301), two random sample were drawn (group A, n = 11,708; group B, n = 1,308). Subjects were invited for a health screening program. Participation rate was 52.5%. All participants received individual life-style counselling. Individuals at high risk of ischemic heart disease in group A were furthermore offered group-based life-style counselling. The intervention was repeated for high-risk individuals after one and three years. At five-year follow-up all participants were invited for a health examination. High risk individuals were included in this study (n = 2 356) and changes in dietary intake were analyzed using multilevel linear regression analyses.


At one-year follow-up group A had significantly increased the unsaturated/saturated fat ratio compared to group B and in men a significantly greater decrease in saturated fat intake was found in group A compared to group B (net change: -1.13 E%; P = 0.003). No differences were found between group A and B at three-year follow-up. At five-year follow-up group A had significantly increased the unsaturated/saturated fat ratio (net change: 0.09; P = 0.01) and the fish intake compared to group B (net change: 5.4 g/day; P = 0.05). Further, in men a non-significant tendency of a greater decrease was found at five year follow-up in group A compared to group B (net change: -0.68 E%; P = 0.10). The intake of fibre and vegetables increased in both groups, however, no significant difference was found between the groups. No differences between groups were found for saturated fat intake in women.


Offering group-based counselling in addition to individual counselling resulted in small, but significantly improved dietary habits at five-year follow-up and a tendency of better maintenance, compared to individual counselling alone.


The Inter99 study was approved by the local Ethics Committee (KA 98 155) and is registered with (registration number: NCT00289237).

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