In support of NIH goals to improve people's health and support a healthy lifestyle, we will conduct a randomized trial to evaluate an age-targeted web-based intervention designed to improve the diet of a young adults (ages 21-30) as they navigate a new life stage of greater independence. The goal of our study is to increase daily intake of fruits and vegetables (FV) for young adults born in or after 1980, known as """"""""Generation Y"""""""" (GenY), using relevant features that appeal to this group. This five-year project has two phases. In the first phase, we will use focus groups to confirm planned, key intervention elements that target needs and preferences of GenY and will build engagement in the intervention, as we revise our tested, effective Internet- based intervention (Making Effective Nutrition Choices or MENU, U19-CA079689). The MENU study was designed to support an increase in FV intake, and relied solely on e-media (internet and email). In the proposed study we will revise the MENU curriculum, applying age-targeted and theory-based methods to improve intervention engagement and effectiveness for GenY dietary behavior change. The intervention will use three psychosocial features which have been subject to empirical examination by age group: Social Cognitive Theory, Self-Determination Theory (SDT), with special attention to Social Marketing Theory (SMT), which emphasizes understanding the total environment to better shape health communications. In developing our program, we will apply knowledge about GenY from developmental psychology, guided by our consultants and formative research on individual, environmental and societal factors collected in our preliminary studies and Phase I GenY focus groups. Focus group members will evaluate our validated MENU intervention, as well as our revised age-targeted, interactive """"""""MENU GenY"""""""" intervention prior to launch. In the second phase, we will evaluate the efficacy of the MENU GenY interventions, including the added value of the self-initiated, personalized e-coaching support by email, as a supplement to the tailored online intervention. Specifically, using a sample of 1624 adults, ages 21 - 30 and from two geographically distinct regions (urban Detroit and rural Pennsylvania), and employing a randomized, three arm design, the primary aims of Phase II are to 1) determine if an age-targeted, tailored web-based intervention is more efficacious in improving daily intake of FV compared to an untailored intervention arm with no age targeting (control arm);2) determine if a tailored web-based intervention with age targeting and personalized e-coaching support is more efficacious than the control;and 3) determine if the tailored web-based intervention with age targeting and e-counseling is more efficacious than a tailored web-based intervention with age targeting alone.
As growing evidence points to increased health risks due to lifestyle choices and unhealthy eating, young adults are facing a declining life expectancy unless changes are made. The MENU Gen Y study will investigate and evaluate ways to engage and support improved dietary choices for young adults, who, at ages 21 through 30, are navigating a more independent life stage. Should our intervention be successful, our aims to use new communication media and evaluate an age-targeted online dietary behavioral change program will provide the opportunity to share essential strategies to reach this under-studied and vulnerable population, help reduce disease risk, and ultimately build lasting healthy dietary habits to help the next generation - their children.