Project Overview +

In support of NIH goals to improve people's health and support a healthy lifestyle, we conduct a randomized trial to evaluate an age-targeted web-based intervention designed to improve the diet of young adults born in or after 1980, known as "Generation Y" (GenY), using relevant features that appeal to this group. The primary outcome is increased fruit and vegetable consumption, increased whole grain consumption, and decreased sweetened beverage consumption.

Related Media +

Related Media:

Aims +

Aim 1: Guided by focus group methodology and expert consultants, refine strategies for engaging young adults (i.e. email, text, blog) and revise our web-based MENU intervention through an age and life-stage targeted, tailored and theory-based approach.

Aim 2: Employ a two-site, three-arm randomized web-based intervention trial targeting young adults ages 21-30 to compare efficacy in increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing whole grain consumption, and decreasing sweetened beverage consumption. The three study arms are as follows:
  • Arm 1: Evidence-based untailored online intervention (i.e. the existing MENU program) with no age targeting
  • Arm 2: Tailored online intervention with additional age group targeting of messages (MENU-GenY)
  • Arm 3: Tailored online intervention with age group targeting (MENU-GenY) plus coaching
Aim 3: To examine variation in dietary change in response to Specific Aim 2 by contextual factors including site, demographics, program engagement, environment, social and motivational factors.

Participants +

Young adults, age 21-30 who are members of Health Alliance Plan (HAP) in metropolitan Detroit and Geisinger Health Plan (GHP) in rural Danville, PA. This investigation will include a total of approximately n=80 focus group participants and 1624 intervention participants, and the goal is to recruit equal numbers of focus group and intervention participants from each of two sites.

Intervention +

Phase I
We convene a total of 10 focus groups (FG) of GenY adults (ages 21 - 30) and analyze data to reinforce and refine strategies to recruit, engage, and retain GenY in a lifestyle (dietary) change.

Phase II
There are 3 study arms. Online materials are delivered over 5 months, with evaluations at 3, 6, and 12 months. To keep subjects engaged, intervention materials are added to the website at least every other week, sometimes weekly. Subjects receive messages (through their choice of communication - email, text message) when new materials become available on the website. Subjects can visit the site whenever they wish.

The control website contains:

  • four behavior-change focused tailored web sessions
  • special features (articles and interactive tools related to healthy eating)
  • an interactive goal-setting tool
  • a recipe box with over 300 healthy recipes

The intervention website contains:

  • eight behavior-change focused tailored web sessions
  • special features (articles and interactive tools related to healthy eating)
  • a recipe box with over 160 healthy recipes
  • blog with expert contributors

All materials in study Arm 1 are untailored. Arms 2 and 3 include web guides that are highly tailored based on psychosocial and demographic variables. The recipe box and menus are customized to the individual's food preferences. Individuals in Arm 3 are also able to interact with a "coach" through personal e-coaching. Coaches are trained in Motivational Interviewing counseling approach.


12/01/2011 - 11/30/2016


National Institute for Child Health and Human Development

Principal Investigator:

Gwen L. Alexander, PhD, MPH


Lawrence C. An, MD
Kenneth A. Resnicow, PhD