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Systematic development of a self-regulation weight-management intervention for overweight adults

Lenneke van Genugten*, Pepijn van Empelen, Ilse Flink and Anke Oenema

Author Affiliations

Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:649  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-649

Published: 27 October 2010



This paper describes the systematic development of an intervention for the prevention of obesity among overweight adults. Its development was guided by the six steps of Intervention Mapping (IM), in which the establishment of program needs, objectives and methods is followed by development of the intervention and an implementation and evaluation plan.


Weight gain prevention can be achieved by making small changes in dietary intake (DI) or physical activity (PA). The intervention objectives, derived from self-regulation theory, were to establish goal-oriented behaviour. They were translated into a computer-tailored Internet-delivered intervention consisting of four modules. The intervention includes strategies to target the main determinants of self-regulation, such as feedback and action planning.

The first module is intended to ensure adults' commitment to preventing weight gain, choosing behaviour change and action initiation. The second and third modules are intended to evaluate behaviour change, and to adapt action and coping plans. The fourth module is intended to maintain self-regulation of body weight without use of the program.

The intervention is being evaluated for its efficacy in an RCT, whose protocol is described in this paper. Primary outcomes are weight, waist circumference and skin-fold thickness. Other outcomes are DI, PA, cognitive mediators and self-regulation skills.


The IM protocol helped us integrating insights from various theories. The performance objectives and methods were guided by self-regulation theory but empirical evidence with regard to the effectiveness of theoretical methods was limited. Sometimes, feasibility issues made it necessary to deviate from the original, theory-based plans. With this paper, we provide transparency with regard to intervention development and evaluation.

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