Submitted to: International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: July 1, 2005
Citation: Thompson, D., Baranowski, J., Cullen, K., Baranowski, T. 2005. The "fun, food, & fitness" program: development of a theoretically based Internet program promoting maintenance of healthy eating and physical activity behaviors to 8 year old African-American girls [abstract]. In: Fourth Annual Conference of the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Program and Abstracts, June 16-18, 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. p. 121-122. Technical Abstract: Little attention has been accorded to the theoretical foundation for the design of Internet-based behavior change programming. This presentation will demonstrate how Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) were combined to create a theoretically informed Internet-program promoting maintenance of healthy diet and physical activity (PA) behaviors. Establishing healthy diet and PA behaviors among youth is critical to preventing obesity. Novel methods/dissemination channels that capture and hold attention while promoting behavior change are needed. Internet-based programs hold promise. They have the potential for wide dissemination, due to the ubiquitous nature of the Internet. Grounding Internet-based interventions in both behavior change and communication theories has the potential to create effective interventions with persuasive appeal. This program employed the Internet to maintain diet and PA behavior changes established in a summer camp. It provided girls with learning opportunities (e.g., online comics, problem solving activities) and then engaged them in self-regulatory activities (e.g., goal setting/review). SCT informed the learning activities (e.g., behavior modeling) and targeted mediating variables such as self efficacy, outcome expectancy, and skills, using self control procedures (e.g., goal setting, problem solving, asking/negotiation). Animation, culturally-sensitive characters, and interactivity were guided by ELM and were incorporated to attract attention and enhance personal relevance, thereby promoting cognitive elaboration. Internet-based behavior change programs offer unique opportunities to meet the needs of youth, and can be designed using a framework informed by behavior change and communication theories. Future work needs to explore different types and combinations of these theories.