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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Steps in the design, development and formative evaluation of obesity prevention-related behavior change trials

Tom Baranowski*, Ester Cerin and Janice Baranowski

Author Affiliations

USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2009, 6:6  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-6

Published: 21 January 2009

Abstract

Obesity prevention interventions through dietary and physical activity change have generally not been effective. Limitations on possible program effectiveness are herein identified at every step in the mediating variable model, a generic conceptual framework for understanding how interventions may promote behavior change. To minimize these problems, and thereby enhance likely intervention effectiveness, four sequential types of formative studies are proposed: targeted behavior validation, targeted mediator validation, intervention procedure validation, and pilot feasibility intervention. Implementing these studies would establish the relationships at each step in the mediating variable model, thereby maximizing the likelihood that an intervention would work and its effects would be detected. Building consensus among researchers, funding agencies, and journal editors on distinct intervention development studies should avoid identified limitations and move the field forward.