Multicomponent mHealth intervention for large, sustained change in multiple diet and activity risk behaviors: The make better choices 2 randomized controlled trial

Bonnie Spring*, Christine Ann Pellegrini, H. G. McFadden, Angela Fidler Pfammatter, Tammy Kay Stump, Juned Siddique, Abby C. King, Donald Hedeker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background: Prevalent co-occurring poor diet and physical inactivity convey chronic disease risk to the population. Large magnitude behavior change can improve behaviors to recommended levels, but multiple behavior change interventions produce small, poorly maintained effects. Objective: The Make Better Choices 2 trial tested whether a multicomponent intervention integrating mHealth, modest incentives, and remote coaching could sustainably improve diet and activity. Methods: Between 2012 and 2014, the 9-month randomized controlled trial enrolled 212 Chicago area adults with low fruit and vegetable and high saturated fat intakes, low moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and high sedentary leisure screen time. Participants were recruited by advertisements to an open-access website, screened, and randomly assigned to either of two active interventions targeting MVPA simultaneously with, or sequentially after other diet and activity targets (N=84 per intervention) or a stress and sleep contact control intervention (N=44). They used a smartphone app and accelerometer to track targeted behaviors and received personalized remote coaching from trained paraprofessionals. Perfect behavioral adherence was rewarded with an incentive of US $5 per week for 12 weeks. Diet and activity behaviors were measured at baseline, 3, 6, and 9 months; primary outcome was 9-month diet and activity composite improvement. Results: Both simultaneous and sequential interventions produced large, sustained improvements exceeding control (P<.001), and brought all diet and activity behaviors to guideline levels. At 9 months, the interventions increased fruits and vegetables by 6.5 servings per day (95% CI 6.1-6.8), increased MVPA by 24.7 minutes per day (95% CI 20.0-29.5), decreased sedentary leisure by 170.5 minutes per day (95% CI –183.5 to –157.5), and decreased saturated fat intake by 3.6% (95% CI –4.1 to –3.1). Retention through 9-month follow-up was 82.1%. Self-monitoring decreased from 96.3% of days at baseline to 72.3% at 3 months, 63.5% at 6 months, and 54.6% at 9 months (P<.001). Neither attrition nor decline in self-monitoring differed across intervention groups. Conclusions: Multicomponent mHealth diet and activity intervention involving connected coaching and modest initial performance incentives holds potential to reduce chronic disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10528
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Behavioral medicine
  • Health behavior
  • Mobile health
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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