Increasing healthy eating behaviours among HP students and in their trainees: a self-regulation training


  • C. Violani
  • M. Fernandes
  • C. De Vincenzo


Background: Competence in helping life styles change through brief interventions based on psychological models can meet important societal needs (Maes and Karoly 2005). Methods: Students attending an 11 weeks course in Health Psychology participated in a weekly laboratory in which they were trained to practice a self-management program, working on SMART healthy eating goals in couples and supervising each other following the CALO-RE model (Mitchi et al 2011). Each student recruited 2 female volunteers interested in improving their own eating behaviours with the help of the students’ counselling. At random one of the volunteers (trainee) received the treatment with a delay of 1 week, while the other served as a waiting list control. Before starting, students and volunteers completed a questionnaire that assessed emotional well-being, self-efficacy, self-determination style and eating habits in the previous week. After the 8 weeks training, both students and volunteers filled again a questionnaire. Findings: Questionnaires completed pre and post the intervention by 28 students, 28 trainees and 27 controls were analysed. 2*2 (time*group) anovas showed that after 8 weeks the trainees reported to eat significantly more fruit and vegetables, to have regular breakfast and meals and a reduced consumption of unhealthy snacks. Only among students there were also a significant pre-post increase in self-efficacy for eating more fruit/vegetables and to reduce snacks. Discussion: A brief intervention, focused on the pursuit of SMART healthy eating behavioural goals and the use of self-regulation skills, can be learned and redelivered by students in health psychology with positive outcomes.





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