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Targeted Messages Increase Dairy Consumption in Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial

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Annals of Behavioral Medicine



Dairy consumption amongst North Americans aged 30–50 has been declining. Targeted messages have been identified as a cost-efficient method through which to increase health-enhancing behavior, such as dairy intake.


The aim of this study is to assess the utility of targeted, framed, efficacy-enhancing messages on calcium consumption from dairy in adults aged 30–50 in a randomized controlled trial.


Seven hundred and thirty-two individuals (463 women, 269 men; M age = 40.57 years) were randomly assigned to one of five message conditions: (1) gain-framed (GF), (2) loss-framed (LF), (3) self-regulatory efficacy-enhancing (SRE), (4) GF plus SRE (GF + SRE), or (5) LF plus SRE (LF + SRE). Conditions were separate for men and women. Each condition received an emailed message on four consecutive days. Calcium intake from dairy, self-regulatory efficacy, outcome expectations, and outcome value were measured at baseline, 1 and 4 weeks following the intervention.


Calcium intake from dairy significantly increased from baseline to week 1 post-intervention in all conditions (p < .001). A significant message condition x time interaction (p = .04) revealed that increases seen in the LF + SRE condition were maintained at week 4. All social cognitive constructs increased following the intervention (ps < .01). Self-regulatory efficacy (β = .28, p < .01) and outcome expectations (β = .19, p < .01) were significant predictors of subsequent calcium intake (week 4) from dairy.


Taken together, it appears as though ensuring message content is targeted to the specific population’s beliefs and motives is of importance when developing behavioral change intervention material.

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Correspondence to Mary E. Jung PhD.

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Conflict of Interest

Authors’ Statement of Conflict of Interest and Adherence to Ethical Standards Authors Jung, Latimer-Cheung, Bourne, and Martin Ginis declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures, including the informed consent process, were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Author Note

Mary E. Jung, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia. Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University. Jessica E. Bourne, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia. Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University.


This research was supported by a grant from the Canadian Agri-Science Clusters Initiative, Dairy Research Cluster (Dairy Farmers of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Canadian Dairy Commission). The funders were not involved in the analyses of data or preparation of this manuscript. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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Jung, M.E., Latimer-Cheung, A.E., Bourne, J.E. et al. Targeted Messages Increase Dairy Consumption in Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. ann. behav. med. 51, 57–66 (2017).

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