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Putting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into Action: Behavior-Directed messages to Motivate Parents Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) February 22, 2013

The results of a three-phase examination of effective behavior-related dietary guidance messages that can be used to assist parents in achieving healthful lifestyles for themselves and their families has been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND). Phases I and II of the research appear in the February 2013 issue, while Phase III is available online ahead of print and will appear in the March 2013 issue.

The research was sponsored by the Dietary Guidelines Alliance, a private-public partnership among leading food, nutrition and health societies and industry organizations, in liaison with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The study consisted of observational research, focus group studies and a web-based survey of parents with children ages 2-17, that were designed to develop and refine messages and determine parents’ intent to implement recommendations. The research was conducted between August and November 2010, in advance of the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in June 2011.

“This research is groundbreaking because it focuses on discovering those behavior-directed messages that can motivate parents to make dietary and physical activity improvement for themselves and their families,” said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety, International Food Information Council Foundation. “The results suggest that health professionals must pay attention to both scientific and consumer research in developing programs designed to bring about positive change.”

The web-based survey, completed by 1,615 parents, tested multiple messages, developed for each of six core concepts (Calories, Physical Activity, Energy Balance, Portion Size, Higher-Calorie Foods and Beverages, and Nutrient-Rich Foods and Beverages) and was designed to validate receptivity to specific messages among parents. Each set of messages was evaluated based on its level of believability, ability to motivate and its likelihood to lead to a specific diet or physical activity-related behavior.

Web Based Survey Results

Following are the core concept messages in each of six categories that ranked highest for believability on the survey:

Calories: “Know Your Number” -- Learning how many calories you should consume in a day is a critical first step on managing your weight.

Physical Activity: “Fun Stuff Counts” -- Get active with the family whether it’s soccer in the backyard, dancing to music, or taking a walk in your neighborhood.

Energy Balance: “Take Charge of Your Weight” -- Balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories you burn through physical activity puts you in control.

Portion Size: “Small Steps=Big Changes” -- Serve smaller portions to help curb calories and keep your weight on the right track.

Higher Calorie Foods and Beverages: “Be a Role Model for Your Children” -- Show your family how to savor their favorite higher-calorie foods and beverages by enjoying smaller portions together.

Nutrient Rich Foods and Beverages: “Base Your plate on Nutrient Rich Foods” -- Base your plate on nutrient-rich foods that offer beneficial nutrients and fewer calories. Choose fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts and low-fat and fat-free dairy foods more often.

The articles are co-authored by: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD, formerly with the IFIC Foundation, and, presently, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Monsanto Company; Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety, International Food Information Council Foundation; Christy White, principal, Cogent Research, LLC, Cambridge, MA; Nancy M. Childs, PhD., Professor of Food Marketing and Peck Fellow, Saint Joseph's University, Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Philadelphia, PA; and Constance J. Geiger, PhD, RD, President, Geiger & Associates, LLC, Fort Bridger, WY, and research associate professor, Division of Nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

For interview requests and any other questions, please contact the IFIC Foundation media team at 202-296-6540, or

The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, nutrition, and food safety for the public good. The IFIC Foundation is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. Visit

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