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      Effective behaviour change techniques for physical activity and healthy eating in overweight and obese adults; systematic review and meta-regression analyses

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          This systematic review aims to explain the heterogeneity in results of interventions to promote physical activity and healthy eating for overweight and obese adults, by exploring the differential effects of behaviour change techniques (BCTs) and other intervention characteristics.


          The inclusion criteria specified RCTs with ≥ 12 weeks’ duration, from January 2007 to October 2014, for adults (mean age ≥ 40 years, mean BMI ≥ 30). Primary outcomes were measures of healthy diet or physical activity. Two reviewers rated study quality, coded the BCTs, and collected outcome results at short (≤6 months) and long term (≥12 months). Meta-analyses and meta-regressions were used to estimate effect sizes (ES), heterogeneity indices (I 2) and regression coefficients.


          We included 48 studies containing a total of 82 outcome reports. The 32 long term reports had an overall ES = 0.24 with 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.15 to 0.33 and I 2 = 59.4%. The 50 short term reports had an ES = 0.37 with 95% CI: 0.26 to 0.48, and I 2 = 71.3%. The number of BCTs unique to the intervention group, and the BCTs goal setting and self-monitoring of behaviour predicted the effect at short and long term. The total number of BCTs in both intervention arms and using the BCTs goal setting of outcome, feedback on outcome of behaviour, implementing graded tasks, and adding objects to the environment, e.g. using a step counter, significantly predicted the effect at long term. Setting a goal for change; and the presence of reporting bias independently explained 58.8% of inter-study variation at short term. Autonomy supportive and person-centred methods as in Motivational Interviewing, the BCTs goal setting of behaviour, and receiving feedback on the outcome of behaviour, explained all of the between study variations in effects at long term.


          There are similarities, but also differences in effective BCTs promoting change in healthy eating and physical activity and BCTs supporting maintenance of change. The results support the use of goal setting and self-monitoring of behaviour when counselling overweight and obese adults. Several other BCTs as well as the use of a person-centred and autonomy supportive counselling approach seem important in order to maintain behaviour over time.

          Trial Registration

          PROSPERO CRD42015020624

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0494-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 91

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          Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement

          Systematic reviews should build on a protocol that describes the rationale, hypothesis, and planned methods of the review; few reviews report whether a protocol exists. Detailed, well-described protocols can facilitate the understanding and appraisal of the review methods, as well as the detection of modifications to methods and selective reporting in completed reviews. We describe the development of a reporting guideline, the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses for Protocols 2015 (PRISMA-P 2015). PRISMA-P consists of a 17-item checklist intended to facilitate the preparation and reporting of a robust protocol for the systematic review. Funders and those commissioning reviews might consider mandating the use of the checklist to facilitate the submission of relevant protocol information in funding applications. Similarly, peer reviewers and editors can use the guidance to gauge the completeness and transparency of a systematic review protocol submitted for publication in a journal or other medium.
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            The behavior change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: building an international consensus for the reporting of behavior change interventions.

            CONSORT guidelines call for precise reporting of behavior change interventions: we need rigorous methods of characterizing active content of interventions with precision and specificity. The objective of this study is to develop an extensive, consensually agreed hierarchically structured taxonomy of techniques [behavior change techniques (BCTs)] used in behavior change interventions. In a Delphi-type exercise, 14 experts rated labels and definitions of 124 BCTs from six published classification systems. Another 18 experts grouped BCTs according to similarity of active ingredients in an open-sort task. Inter-rater agreement amongst six researchers coding 85 intervention descriptions by BCTs was assessed. This resulted in 93 BCTs clustered into 16 groups. Of the 26 BCTs occurring at least five times, 23 had adjusted kappas of 0.60 or above. "BCT taxonomy v1," an extensive taxonomy of 93 consensually agreed, distinct BCTs, offers a step change as a method for specifying interventions, but we anticipate further development and evaluation based on international, interdisciplinary consensus.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: not found
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              Better reporting of interventions: template for intervention description and replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide


                Author and article information

                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central (London )
                28 March 2017
                28 March 2017
                : 14
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7443, GRID grid.7914.b, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, , University of Bergen, ; Kalfarveien 31, N-5018 Bergen, Norway
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9753 1393, GRID grid.412008.f, Department for Research and Development, , Haukeland University Hospital, ; Bergen, Norway
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9753 1393, GRID grid.412008.f, Centre for Clinical Research, , Haukeland University Hospital, ; Bergen, Norway
                [4 ]Member of Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), Allasso, Norway
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9174, GRID grid.16416.34, School of Medicine, , University of Rochester, ; Rochester, NY USA
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: The Research counsil of Norway
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