Skip to main content

Eat for Life

The aim was to evaluate a behaviourally-oriented dietary counselling programme designed to increase fruit and vegetable intake in an ethnically mixed low income population. The study has been carried out by a multi-disciplinary group involving psychology, cardiovascular epidemiology and primary care research. A randomised parallel group controlled trial has been conducted in a primary care setting, comparing behavioural counselling with intensive advice in ~270 low income adults recruited from a single general practice in Battersea, South London.

The behavioural counselling is based on a dietary fat reduction programme successfully utilised in a recent trial, replacing the negative message of reducing fat with positive encouragement to increase fruit and vegetables. The counselling was presented within a 'stage of change' framework. The counselling was administered over two 15-min individual sessions supported by written material.

Outcomes included measures of diet (food frequency questionnaire) and bio-makers of fruit and vegetable intake (urinary potassium excretion and plasma levels of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene). They were assessed at baseline, eight weeks (short-term outcome) and 12 months (long-term outcome).

The study will determine the feasibility of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption through brief targeted dietary counselling designed for administration within primary care.


  • Perkins-Porras L, Cappuccio F P, Rink E, Hilton S, McKay C, Steptoe A. Does the effect of behavioral counseling on fruit and vegetable intake vary with stage of readiness to change? Prev Med 2005; 40:314-20
  • Steptoe A, Perkins-Porras L, Hilton S, Rink E, Cappuccio F P. Quality of life and self-rated health in relation to changes in fruit and vegetable intake and in plasma vitamins C and E in a randomised trial of behavioural and nutritional education counselling, Br J Nutr 2004;92:177-84
  • Steptoe A, Perkins-Porras L, Rink E, Hilton S, Cappuccio F P. Psychological and social predictors of changes in fruit and vegetable consumption over 12 months following behavioral and nutrition education counseling. Health Psychology 2004; 23(6):574-81
  • Steptoe A, Perkins-Porras L, McKay C, Rink E, Hilton S, Cappuccio F P. Behavioural counselling to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables in low income adults: randomised trial, Br Med J 2003;326:855-8
  • Cappuccio F P, Rink E, Perkins-Porras L, McKay C, Hilton S, Steptoe A. Estimation of fruit and vegetable intake using a two-item dietary questionnaire: a potential tool for primary health care workers, Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2003;12-9
  • Steptoe A, Perkins-Porras L, McKay C, Rink E, Hilton S, Cappuccio F P. Psychological factors associated with fruit and vegetable intake and with biomarkers in adults from a low-income neighborhood, Health Psychology 2003;22:148-55


Principal Investigators
  • A Steptoe (UCL)
  • F P Cappuccio (WMS)
  • S Hilton (SGUL)
Research Team
  • L Porras (UCL)
  • E Rink (SGUL)
  • C McKey (SGUL)

Department of Health / Medical Research Council