Interventions on diet and physical activity – what works; the community.

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 that included human participants and were published in English between January 1995 and June 2006.
  • 937 diet studies were chosen for inclusion and 776 physical activity studies.


Effective Interventions

  1. Diet education programmes that:

  • target high-risk groups (e.g. menopausal, pre-diabetic women);

  • are multi-component;

  1. Community development campaigns with department cooperation and/or focused on a common goal (e.g. reduction in cardiovascular disease risk).

  2. Group-based physical activity programmes or classes for a similar group of individuals

Moderately Effective Interventions

  1. Interventions that use an existing phone-in service to provide dietary advice

  2. Community-wide interventions conducted as part of a national or global campaign (e.g. healthy lifestyles strategy or “Healthy Village”) in a similar community.

  3. Programmes that target low-income/low literacy populations and include diet education in the standard programme.

  4. Computer/web-based interventions with interactive personalised feedback, targeting high-risk groups.

  5. Supermarket tours and on-site educational programmes to support the purchase of healthier foods.

  6. Walking school bus

Example Interventions

  1. Pasos Adelante, or "Steps Forward", is a community-participation campaign for chronic disease prevention targeting border counties between the USA and Mexico. Community health workers were trained as promoters or group leaders and were involved in both the formative assessment and the cultural adaptation of the 12-week prevention programme. Individuals received culturally appropriate educational classes and participated in a walking club. The programme has an 87% completion rate, with a 120-minute median increase in physical activity, and a four serving increase in fruit and vegetables per person per week


  1. "Strategies should be geared to changing social norms and improving community understanding and acceptance of the need to integrate physical activity into everyday life."


  • 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.