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Healthy Behaviors Persist After Educational Intervention

Most participants continued to live healthier lives 18 months after intervention

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals who became more active and ate healthier diets after participating in an intensive health education program continued to exhibit these newfound healthy behaviors 1.5 years after the program ended, suggesting that educational interventions can be effective in enacting long-term behavioral change, according to an article in the January issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ray M. Merrill, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and colleagues followed 348 adult participants of an intensive four-week educational course targeting healthy lifestyle choices to assess whether improved health behaviors associated with the intervention persisted over time. The researchers evaluated participants' physical activity and dietary habits at baseline, at six weeks and at 18 months after the intervention.

At six weeks, participants' scores improved significantly on all but one of the 21 physical activity and dietary variables. At 18 months, scores improved significantly on all but three measures. At 18 months, physical activity improved in participants in the lowest two quartiles of physical activity at baseline, but decreased in those in the highest two quartiles.

"These results are encouraging and consistent with other lifestyle trials. To improve the health and well-being of our population, greater adoption of health interventions such as [this] appear warranted," the authors conclude.

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