Blood lipids reveal online tailored nutrition advice is not effective

While most are turning to online nutrition programs for help on how to keep fit, a study has however revealed that there is no evidence of the efficacy of such computer-tailored education.

The study took into account empirical data based on blood cholesterol and lipids to come to the conclusion.

Investigators from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands assessed 442 healthy Dutch adults to determine the effectiveness of a computer-tailored intervention aimed at the reduction of fat intake.

Instead of just looking at self-reported dietary recalls to evaluate dietary fat intake, which can be skewed by portion size errors, underreporting, and socially desirable answers, the researchers evaluated a more reliable outcome — blood lipids (total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).

The computer program aimed at reducing saturated fat intake had no effect on the blood values.

“Computer tailored intervention with a single dose, aimed at reduction of (saturated) fat intake, for which meaningful effects based on self-reports have been reported, was not sufficient to produce detectable changes in blood lipids in the current study,” Drs. Willemieke Kroeze, PhD, and Johannes Brug, PhD, Assistant Professor and Professor, respectively, at the Vrije Universiteit, said.

They were asked how to improve outcomes from consulting online nutrition advice websites.

Dr. Kroeze suggested exploring methods “to increase the feasibility of objectively assessing the impact of computer-tailored nutrition education interventions aimed at primary prevention in real-life settings”.

“In addition, strategies should be developed to improve the intensity and duration of computer-tailored interventions, and to incorporate social interaction in the intervention,” Dr. Kroeze added.

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The study has been published in the September/October 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

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