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Workplace e-mail intervention program helps people sit less and eat better
Date:5/18/2009

e takeaway message here for people who want to improve their diet and physical activity, and for employers who want a healthier workforce, is that e-mail intervention programs are a very cost-effective way to get healthy," said study lead investigator Barbara Sternfeld, Ph.D., senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study's lead investigator. "A tailored e-mail program includes all the things that behavioral scientists have said for years about changing behavior: small goals tailored for the individual, reinforcement, and tracking but delivered in a mass, cost-effective way."

Funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this study offers additional support for the effectiveness of the Internet and e-mail to reach large segments of the population to inspire healthier lifestyle choices. It is one of the first studies to send messages directly into individuals' e-mail inboxes, rather than requiring individuals to actively access messages via the World Wide Web.

Given that the majority of Americans eat poorly and fail to exercise enough, effective e-mail programs could be a useful way to improve health, researchers say. According to the CDC, 55 percent don't perform the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Additionally, the daily diet for about three-quarters of the population consists of more than 30 percent fat, a percentage that's generally considered too high.

Participants received weekly e-mails in their work or home accounts for four months that were tailored to their individual needs and life situation (for example, whether they had small children at home or busy schedules that posed barriers to exercise and diet improvement.) The e-mails linked to a personal home page with tips for achieving the small-step goals the respondent had selected, educational materials and tracking and simulation tools. Reminder messages were sent between each int
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Contact: Danielle Cass
danielle.x.cass@kp.org
510-267-5354
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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