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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331407

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Innovative techniques for evaluating behavioral nutrition interventions

Author
item Scherr, Rachel - University Of California
item Laugero, Kevin
item Graham, Dan - Colorado State University
item Cunningham, Brian - University Of Illinois
item Jahns, Lisa
item Lora, Karina - University Of Connecticut
item Reicks, Marla - University Of Minnesota
item Mobley, Amy - University Of Connecticut

Submitted to: Advances in Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/2016
Publication Date: 1/1/2017
Citation: Scherr, R.E., Laugero, K.D., Graham, D.J., Cunningham, B.T., Jahns, L.A., Lora, K.R., Reicks, M., Mobley, A.R. 2017. Innovative techniques for evaluating behavioral nutrition interventions. Advances in Nutrition. 8:113-25.

Interpretive Summary: There are many behavior-based interventions to improve the diet of Americans. Most of these rely on self-reported outcomes such as dietary intake, or knowledge of a healthy diet. However, self-report data has many errors including factors such as memory, estimating portion sizes eaten, or the participant wanting to please the researcher. Therefore, innovative tools to assess the effectiveness of interventions is needed to obtain accurate results. This manuscript contains reviews of four novel technological methods: 1) functional MRI (fMRI) to detect brain responsiveness to nutrition interventions 2) eye-tracking technology in nutritional interventions, 3) smart phone biosensors to assess nutrition and health related outcomes, and 4) skin carotenoid measurements to assess fruit and vegetable intake. Specifically, the novel use of fMRI, by characterizing the brain’s responsiveness to an intervention, can help researchers develop programs with greater efficacy. Similarly, with the eye-tracking technology, if researchers can get a better sense as to how participants view materials, they may be better tailored to create an optimal impact. The latter two techniques reviewed, smartphone biosensors and methods to detect skin carotenoids, can provide the research community with portable, effective, non-biased ways to assess dietary intake, quality and more in the field. While not all of these techniques are feasible for use with all participants in community settings, the information gained from utilizing these types of methodologies can also improve the efficacy of community-based nutrition interventions and their assessment.

Technical Abstract: Assessing outcomes and impact from behavioral nutrition interventions in the community has remained challenging for a variety of reasons. One main reason is the lack of methods available beyond traditional nutrition assessment tools and techniques. With current global obesity and related chronic disease rates high, effective community-based interventions are needed more than ever along with methods to evaluate impact. The objective of this narrative review is to describe and review the current status of knowledge as it relates to four different innovative research methods or tools to assess community-based behavioral nutrition interventions. Methods reviewed include the use of 1) functional MRI (fMRI) to detect brain responsiveness to enhance evaluation of nutrition interventions 2) eye-tracking technology in nutritional interventions, 3) smart phone biosensors to assess nutrition and health related outcomes, and 4) skin carotenoid measurements to assess fruit and vegetable intake. Specifically, the novel use of fMRI, by characterizing the brain’s responsiveness to an intervention, can help researchers develop programs with greater efficacy. Similarly, with the eye-tracking technology, if researchers can get a better sense as to how participants view materials, they may be better tailored to create an optimal impact. The latter two techniques reviewed, smartphone biosensors and methods to detect skin carotenoids, can provide the research community with portable, effective, non-biased ways to assess dietary intake, quality and more in the field. While not all of these techniques are feasible for use with all participants in community settings, the information gained from utilizing these types of methodologies can also improve the efficacy of community-based nutrition interventions and their assessment.