Interventions on diet and physical activity – what works; older adults.

From: World Health Organisation

Journal rating:
rating: 90%
Study Quality:
rating: 10%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 5%
rating: 0%


  • The paper is a review of the existing literature.


  • This report by the World Health Organisation was published in 2009 and was a review of the eligible studies investigating diet and/or physical activity.
  • 937 diet studies were chosen for inclusion and 776 physical activity studies.


Effective Interventions

  1. None Listed

Moderately Effective Interventions

  1. Physical activity interventions in a group setting using an existing social structure or meeting place.

  2. Home-based interventions in which older adults have increased access to fruit and vegetables using existing infrastructure

Example Interventions

  1. The Seattle Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program targeted home-bound older adults and aimed to increase their consumption of fresh produce by delivering baskets of fruit and vegetables every two weeks. After five months, programme participants had increased their daily consumption of fruit and vegetables by 1.04 servings. Furthermore, the number of persons receiving the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables increased from 22% to 39%. This programme used an existing infrastructure, i.e. Meals on Wheels, to deliver the baskets

  2. The Community Health Intervention Programme (CHIPs) ran physical activity classes twice weekly for older adults in disadvantaged communities in rural South Africa. Classes took place following existing meetings of community seniors over a 20- week period. Significant improvements were seen in dynamic balance, lower body strength, and systolic blood pressure. This programme has been running, using a community development model through peer-leadership, for over seven years


  1. "A life-course perspective is essential for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases. This approach ... encourages a healthy diet and regular physical activity from youth into old age."


  • As per the results above.


Editors Notes

  • Noncommunicable diseases (chronic disease which are not passed from person to person) are by far the leading cause of death in the world today, and their impact is steadily growing. In 2005, 35 million people died from NCDs, which represents 60% of the total number of global deaths in that year.
  • A small set of common risk factors is responsible for most of the major noncommunicable diseases: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Elimination of these modifiable risk factors would prevent 80% of premature heart disease, 80% of premature stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer.