Open Access Study protocol

Effectiveness of a website and mobile phone based physical activity and nutrition intervention for middle-aged males: Trial protocol and baseline findings of the ManUp Study

Mitch J Duncan1*, Corneel Vandelanotte1, Richard R Rosenkranz2, Cristina M Caperchione3, Hang Ding4, Marcus Ellison1, Emma S George5, Cindy Hooker1, Mohan Karunanithi4, Gregory S Kolt5, Anthony Maeder6, Manny Noakes7, Rhys Tague6, Pennie Taylor7, Pierre Viljoen8 and W Kerry Mummery9

Author affiliations

1 Central Queensland University, Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Centre for Physical Activity Studies, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD 4700, Australia

2 Kansas State University, Department of Human Nutrition, , Manhattan, Kansas, 66506, United States

3 University of British Columbia, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 1V7, Canada

4 CSIRO, The Australian eHealth Research Centre, ICT Centre, Level 5, UQ Health Sciences Building 901/16, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Herston, QLD, 4029, Australia

5 University of Western Sydney, School of Science and Health, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

6 University of Western Sydney, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Tele-Health Research and Innovation Laboratory, Narellan Road, Campbelltown, NSW, 2560, Australia

7 CSIRO, Food and Nutritional Sciences, PO Box 10041, Adelaide, BC, 5000, Australia

8 Central Queensland University, Boundary Road, Mackay, QLD, 4740, Australia

9 University of Alberta, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H9, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:656  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-656

Published: 15 August 2012



Compared to females, males experience higher rates of chronic disease and mortality, yet few health promotion initiatives are specifically aimed at men. Therefore, the aim of the ManUp Study is to examine the effectiveness of an IT-based intervention to increase the physical activity and nutrition behaviour and literacy in middle-aged males (aged 35–54 years).


The study design was a two-arm randomised controlled trial, having an IT-based (applying website and mobile phones) and a print-based intervention arm, to deliver intervention materials and to promote self-monitoring of physical activity and nutrition behaviours. Participants (n = 317) were randomised on a 2:1 ratio in favour of the IT-based intervention arm. Both intervention arms completed assessments at baseline, 3, and 9 months. All participants completed self-report assessments of physical activity, sitting time, nutrition behaviours, physical activity and nutrition literacy, perceived health status and socio-demographic characteristics. A randomly selected sub-sample in the IT-based (n = 61) and print-based (n = 30) intervention arms completed objective measures of height, weight, waist circumference, and physical activity as measured by accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X). The average age of participants in the IT-based and print-based intervention arm was 44.2 and 43.8 years respectively. The majority of participants were employed in professional occupations (IT-based 57.6%, Print-based 54.2%) and were overweight or obese (IT-based 90.8%, Print-based 87.3%). At baseline a lower proportion of participants in the IT-based (70.2%) group agreed that 30 minutes of physical activity each day is enough to improve health compared to the print-based (82.3%) group (p = .026). The IT-based group consumed a significantly lower number of serves of red meat in the previous week, compared to the print-based group (p = .017). No other significant between-group differences were observed at baseline.


The ManUp Study will examine the effectiveness of an IT-based approach to improve physical activity and nutrition behaviour and literacy. Study outcomes will provide much needed information on the efficacy of this approach in middle aged males, which is important due to the large proportions of males at risk, and the potential reach of IT-based interventions.

Trial registration


Physical activity; Nutrition; Males; Website; Internet; Online; Mobile phone; Self-monitoring; Literacy; Intervention