Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The effect of mere-measurement of cognitions on physical activity behavior: a randomized controlled trial among overweight and obese individuals

Gaston Godin1*, Ariane Bélanger-Gravel2, Steve Amireault2, Marie-Claude Vohl3 and Louis Pérusse4

Author Affiliations

1 Canada Research Chair on Behavior and Health, Faculty of Nursing, Laval University, Quebec city (Quebec), Canada

2 Research Group on Behaviors in the Field of Health, Faculty of Nursing, Laval University, Quebec City (Quebec), Canada

3 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture and Food, Laval University, Quebec City (Quebec), Canada

4 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec City (Quebec), Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:2  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-2

Published: 11 January 2011

Abstract

Background

The promotion of physical activity among an overweight/obese population is an important challenge for clinical practitioners and researchers. In this regard, completing a questionnaire on cognitions could be a simple and easy strategy to increase levels of physical activity. Thus, the aim of the present study was to test the effect of completing a questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) on the level of physical activity.

Methods

Overall, 452 overweight/obese adults were recruited and randomized to the experimental or control group. At baseline, participants completed a questionnaire on cognitions regarding their participation in leisure-time physical activity (experimental condition) versus a questionnaire on fruit and vegetable consumption (control condition). The questionnaires assessed the TPB variables that are beliefs, attitude, norm, perception of control, intention and a few additional variables from other theories. At three-month follow-up, leisure-time physical activity was self-reported by means of a short questionnaire. An analysis of covariance with baseline physical activity level as covariate was used to verify the effect of the intervention.

Results

At follow-up, 373 participants completed the leisure-time physical activity questionnaire. The statistical analysis showed that physical activity participation was greater among participants in the experimental condition than those in the control condition (F(1,370) = 6.85, p = .009, d = 0.20).

Conclusions

Findings indicate that completing a TPB questionnaire has a significant positive impact on subsequent participation in physical activity. Consequently, asking individuals to complete such a questionnaire is a simple, inexpensive and easy strategy to increase the level of physical activity among overweight/obese adults.