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Evaluation of an online “teachable moment” dietary intervention

Leah Marks (Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)
Jane Ogden (Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 3 January 2017




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate an online “teachable moment” intervention to promote healthy eating for overweight and food intolerance symptoms.


The study involves a 2×2 factorial design with two conditions: group (weight loss vs food intolerance) and condition (intervention vs control). The intervention aimed to generate a “teachable moment” by providing knowledge regarding the relationship between food and the problem (overweight or food intolerance), focussing on the negative aspects of the problem, creating a behavioural model, and encouraging hope and reinvention. Participants receiving the intervention (n=22) completed measures of dietary behaviour and either weight or food intolerance symptoms before receiving the intervention and again one month later. Control participants (n=20) provided measures but did not receive the intervention.


There were no significant reductions in weight or food intolerance symptoms. However, compared to control participants, participants in the intervention conditions reported greater intentions to eat healthily (p=0.01) and improved healthy eating behaviour over time, following both an intention-to-treat (p=0.046) and explanatory analysis (p=0.042).

Practical implications

Encouraging individuals to perceive their everyday situation as a time for change and adopt healthier behaviour early on, may prevent future diet-related medical events. This has benefits for both the individual and for health care costs.


A quick and easy-to-administer online “teachable moment” intervention improves dietary behaviour and can be minimally adapted to suit individuals with differing health needs.



Conflicts of interest: none.

The authors would like to thank the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), who funded this research project.


Marks, L. and Ogden, J. (2017), "Evaluation of an online “teachable moment” dietary intervention", Health Education, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 39-52.



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