A Goal Setting Intervention Positively Impacts Adolescents’ Dietary Behaviors and Physical Activity Self-Efficacy


  • Mical Kay Shilts California State University, Sacramento
  • Marilyn S. Townsend University of California, Davis




The efficacy of a youth development intervention on improving eating and physical activity(PA) self-efficacy, goal attainment scaling, goal effort, and behaviors was examined in a repeated measures, quasi-experimental field trial. Ethnically diverse students (n=64) from a low-income middle school participated in the 10-session intervention driven by the Social Cognitive Theory with a Goal Setting Theory emphasis. Participants, 13-14 years old, made significant changes in dietary behaviors (P=0.03) and PA self-efficacy (P=0.02) after receiving the intervention. Self-efficacy did not mediate dietary behavior change but did mediate the small changes made in PA. Goal effort was not a mediator of behavior change. After the intervention, more participants rated themselves as making one lasting improvement in eating (P<0.001) and PA (P<0.05) choices and/or were planning on making more. This study adds to a small body of research with youth supporting use of goal setting interventions for diet and PA change in low-income communities.






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