Evaluation of a Shelter-Based Diet and Physical Activity Intervention for Homeless Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

The current study evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of a diet and physical activity intervention for homeless adults.

Methods:

Shelter residents (N = 32) were randomly assigned to a 4-week diet and physical activity intervention (n = 17) or an assessment-only control group (n = 15). Intervention participants received tailored educational newsletters, pedometers with step goals, and twice daily fruit/vegetable snacks. Key measures included 24-hour dietary recall interviews and accelerometer-measured moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA).

Results:

At baseline, 68.8% of participants were overweight or obese, 93.8% reported food insecurity, and 43.8% reported activity levels below physical activity guidelines. Baseline dietary recall interviews indicated low fruit/vegetable consumption, and elevated intake of added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium relative to current dietary recommendations. During the 4-week study period, intervention participants engaged in significantly greater accelerometer-measured daily MVPA (P < .001) than controls (median = 60 daily minutes p vs. 41 daily minutes). Between groups differences in fruit/vegetable consumption at the end of treatment did not reach statistical significance. Most participants reported that the intervention was helpful for increasing fruit/vegetable intake and physical activity.

Conclusions:

Findings highlight the potential to improve dietary quality and increase physical activity among sheltered homeless adults.

Kendzor and Businelle are with The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Dept of Family and Preventive Medicine, Oklahoma City, OK; and The Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Allicock is with The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Dallas, Dallas, TX. Sandon is with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dept of Clinical Nutrition, Dallas, TX. Pettee Gabriel is with The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Austin, Austin, TX.

Frank is with The Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Kendzor (Darla-Kendzor@ouhsc.edu) is corresponding author.