Establishing healthy eating ‘habits’: a pilot randomised controlled trial of a habit-based dietary intervention following oral rehabilitation for older adults

Sinead Watson, Leigh-Ann McCrum, Bernadette McGuinness, Christopher Cardwell, Mike Clarke, Jayne V. Woodside, Gerry McKenna, Laura McGowan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


An ageing population presents significant nutritional challenges, particularly for partially dentate adults. This two-armed pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) compared habit formation (automaticity) for healthy eating behaviours between control and intervention groups after participation in a habit-based dietary intervention for older adults, following oral rehabilitation in the United Kingdom (UK). n = 54 participants were randomised to receive a habit-based dietary intervention (intervention group n = 27, IG) or standard dietary advice in a leaflet (control group n = 27, CG). The IG attended three sessions over six weeks, which focused on habit formation for three healthy eating behaviours (increasing fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, and healthy proteins). Participants were assessed for habit strength (using the Self-Report Behavioural Automaticity Index (SRBAI)) alongside health and nutrition outcomes at six weeks, four months and eight months. Forty-nine participants completed all follow-up visits. The IG compared to the CG had significant increases in automaticity at six weeks, four months (primary outcome) and eight months for eating ≥3 portions of fruit and vegetables; choosing wholegrain sources over white alternatives, and choosing healthy protein sources over red/processed meat. The mean change in the Mini Nutritional Assessment total score was greater in the IG compared with the CG at six weeks only (p = 0.03). A habit-based dietary intervention following oral rehabilitation increased automaticity for healthy dietary behaviours, which could translate into clinically meaningful benefits in this cohort of older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article number731
Number of pages21
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2023


  • behaviour change
  • diet
  • habit
  • healthy eating
  • intervention
  • older adults
  • randomised controlled trial
  • Vegetables
  • Humans
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Diet, Healthy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Diet
  • Aged
  • Habits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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