Results of a 2-year randomized, controlled obesity prevention trial: Effects on diet, activity and sleep behaviors in an at-risk young adult population

Prev Med. 2016 Aug;89:230-236. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jun 7.


Excess weight gain tends to occur in young adulthood. However, research examining effective weight-related interventions for this age group has been limited. As one of seven trials in the EARLY Trials consortium (Early Adult Reduction of weight through LifestYle intervention), the CHOICES Study (Choosing Healthy Options in College Environments and Settings) tested effects of a technology-integrated, young adult weight gain prevention intervention. It was a randomized controlled trial with assessments at baseline (2011) and 4-, 12- and 24-months post-intervention initiation and included 441 participants (ages 18-35) who were students at three Minnesota community colleges. The 24-month intervention included a 1-credit academic course and social networking and support online intervention. This analysis examined effects on 12 secondary behavioral outcomes across three domains: diet (fast food, sugary beverages, breakfast, at-home meal preparation), physical activity/screen time (minutes and energy expenditure in leisure time physical activity, television viewing, leisure time computer use) and sleep (hours of sleep, time required to fall asleep, days not getting enough rest, difficulty staying awake). The intervention resulted in significant reductions in fast food (p=0.007) but increases in difficulty staying awake (p=0.015). There was limited evidence of other behavior changes at 4months (0.05<p<0.1) in the expected direction but differences by treatment condition dissipated over time. Analyses examining summary treatment effects (i.e., modeling effects on all behavioral outcomes simultaneously) indicated significant overall effects (p=0.014), largely driven by 4-month results (p=0.005). Additional research is needed to understand effective obesity prevention among young adults, particularly when addressing multiple weight-related outcomes.

Trial registration: NCT01134783.

Keywords: Diet; Obesity; Weight gain prevention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minnesota
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep Wake Disorders*
  • Universities

Associated data