Evaluation of an individualized counseling approach as part of a multicomponent school-based program to prevent weight-related problems among adolescent girls

J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1218-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.008.


School-based interventions show inconsistent results in reducing weight-related problems. One limitation of school programs is that they do not easily allow for individualization of targeted messages. An important question regards the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing individual sessions within broader school-based programs. This article evaluates the feasibility and effectiveness of the individual counseling component of New Moves, a school-based program designed to prevent weight-related problems in adolescent girls, which was evaluated in a randomized controlled study. A total of 356 girls from six intervention and six control high schools in the St Paul/Minneapolis, MN, metropolitan area participated in the New Moves study in 2007-2009. This analysis includes the 182 girls from the intervention schools, all of whom were offered individual counseling as part of the program. The intervention girls had a mean age of 15.7 years (standard deviation 1.13) and were racially/ethnically diverse (73.1% non-white). During the individual sessions, which incorporated motivational interviewing strategies, girls set targeted behavioral goals aimed at preventing a spectrum of weight-related problems. More than 80% of the girls participated in five or more individual sessions. Girls chose goals for behavioral change based on individual needs. For example, girls with low levels of breakfast intake at baseline were most likely to set a goal to increase breakfast frequency. Satisfaction with the individual sessions was high, with 95% of the girls reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with the sessions. The addition of an individual counseling component to school-based interventions is feasible and has the potential to enhance behavior change.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • School Health Services*
  • Schools