(HealthDay News) – Coaching supported by mobile technology can help adults improve their lifestyle, most significantly through increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables and decreasing sedentary leisure time.

Bonnie Spring, PhD, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues randomized 200 adults in need of lifestyle improvements to one of four treatments: increase fruit/vegetable intake and physical activity; decrease fat and sedentary leisure; decrease fat and increase physical activity; and increase fruit/ vegetable intake and decrease sedentary leisure. Remote coaching for three weeks was supported by mobile decision support technology and financial incentives. During treatment, incentives were conditional on using the mobile device to self-monitor and attain behavioral targets; incentives were conditional on recording during follow-up.

At five-month follow-up, the researchers found that the increase fruits/vegetables and decrease sedentary leisure treatments showed the most significant improvement, with an increase in the daily fruit/vegetable intake from 1.2 to 5.5 servings; a decrease in sedentary leisure from 219.2 to 89.3 minutes; and a decrease in saturated fat from 12.0 to 9.5% of calories consumed. Through follow-up, the differences between treatment groups were maintained. The least improvement was seen with a traditional dieting treatment (decrease fat and increase physical activity).

“Remote coaching supported by mobile technology and financial incentives holds promise to improve diet and activity,” the authors write. “Targeting fruits/vegetables and sedentary leisure together maximizes overall adoption and maintenance of multiple healthy behavior changes.”

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