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A review of the nature and effectiveness of nutrition interventions in adult males – a guide for intervention strategies

Pennie J Taylor1*, Gregory S Kolt2, Corneel Vandelanotte3, Cristina M Caperchione4, W Kerry Mummery5, Emma S George2, Mohanraj Karunanithi6 and Manny J Noakes7

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Research Unit, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, P.O. Box 10041, Adelaide BC, South Australia 5000, Australia

2 School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, New South Wales 2751, Australia

3 Centre for Physical Activity Studies, Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Building 18 CQUniversity, Rockhampton, Queensland 4701, Australia

4 School of Health and Exercise Sciences, The University of British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 1V7, Canada

5 Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Canada W1-34 van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H9, Canada

6 The Australian e-Health Research Centre, ICT Centre, CSIRO, Level 5, UQ Health Sciences Building 901/16, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hopsital, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia

7 CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, P.O. Box 10041, Adelaide BC, South Australia 5000, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:13  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-13

Published: 29 January 2013



Energy excess, low fruit and vegetable intake and other suboptimal dietary habits contribute to an increased poor health and the burden of disease in males. However the best way to engage males into nutrition programs remains unclear. This review provides a critical evaluation of the nature and effectiveness of nutrition interventions that target the adult male population.


A search for full-text publications was conducted using The Cochrane Library; Web of Science; SCOPUS; MEDLINE and CINAHL. Studies were included if 1) published from January 1990 to August 2011 and 2) male only studies (≥18 years) or 3) where males contributed to >90% of the active cohort. A study must have described, (i) a significant change (p<0.05) over time in an objective measure of body weight, expressed in kilograms (kg) OR Body Mass Index (BMI) OR (ii) at least one significant change (p<0.05) in a dietary intake measure to qualify as effective. To identify emerging patterns within the research a descriptive process was used.


Nine studies were included. Sample sizes ranged from 53 to 5042 male participants, with study durations ranging from 12 weeks to 24 months. Overlap was seen with eight of the nine studies including a weight management component whilst six studies focused on achieving changes in dietary intake patterns relating to modifications of fruit, vegetable, dairy and total fat intakes and three studies primarily focused on achieving weight loss through caloric restriction. Intervention effectiveness was identified for seven of the nine studies. Five studies reported significant positive changes in weight (kg) and/or BMI (kg/m2) changes (p≤0.05). Four studies had effective interventions (p<0.05) targeting determinants of dietary intake and dietary behaviours and/or nutritional intake.

Intervention features, which appeared to be associated with better outcomes, include the delivery of quantitative information on diet and the use of self-monitoring and tailored feedback.


Uncertainty remains as to the features of successful nutrition interventions for males due to limited details provided for nutrition intervention protocols, variability in mode of delivery and comparisons between delivery modes as well as content of information provided to participants between studies. This review offers knowledge to guide researchers in making informed decisions on how to best utilise resources in interventions to engage adult males while highlighting the need for improved reporting of intervention protocols.

Males; Men; Nutrition; Dietary intervention; Weight loss