Skip to main content Accessibility help

The website-based eaTracker® ‘My Goals’ feature: a qualitative evaluation

  • Jessica RL Lieffers (a1), Helen Haresign (a2), Christine Mehling (a2), Jose F Arocha (a1) and Rhona M Hanning (a1)...



In 2011, Dietitians of Canada added ‘My Goals’ to its website-based nutrition/activity tracking program (eaTracker®,; this feature allows users to choose ‘ready-made’ or ‘write-your-own’ goals and to self-report progress. The purpose of the present study was to document experiences and perceptions of goal setting and My Goals, and report users’ feedback on what is needed in future website-based goal setting/tracking tools.


One-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with (i) My Goals users and (ii) dietitians providing a public information support service, EatRight Ontario (ERO).


My Goals users from Ontario and Alberta, Canada were recruited via an eaTracker website pop-up box; ERO dietitians working in Ontario, Canada were recruited via ERO.


My Goals users (n 23; age 19–70 years; 91 % female; n 5 from Alberta/n 18 from Ontario) and ERO dietitians (n 5).


Dietitians and users felt goal setting for nutrition (and activity) behaviour change was both a beneficial and a challenging process. Dietitians were concerned about users setting poor-quality goals and users felt it was difficult to stick to their goals. Both users and dietitians were enthusiastic about the My Goals concept, but felt the current feature had limitations that affected use. Dietitians and users provided suggestions to improve My Goals (e.g. more prominent presence of My Goals in eaTracker; assistance with goal setting; automated personalized feedback).


Dietitians and users shared similar perspectives on the My Goals feature and both felt goal use was challenging. Several suggestions were provided to enhance My Goals that are relevant to website-based goal setting/tracking tool design in general.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The website-based eaTracker® ‘My Goals’ feature: a qualitative evaluation
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The website-based eaTracker® ‘My Goals’ feature: a qualitative evaluation
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The website-based eaTracker® ‘My Goals’ feature: a qualitative evaluation
      Available formats


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email


Hide All
1. Garriguet, D (2007) Canadians’ eating habits. Health Rep 18, 1732.
2. Garriguet, D (2007) Sodium consumption at all ages. Health Rep 18, 4752.
3. Statistics Canada (2015) Body composition of adults, 2012 to 2013. (accessed March 2016).
4. Ezzati, M & Riboli, E (2013) Behavioral and dietary risk factors for noncommunicable diseases. N Engl J Med 369, 954964.
5. Imamura, F, O’Connor, L, Ye, Z et al. (2016) Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction. Br J Sports Med 50, 496504.
6. Lock, K, Pomerleau, J, Causer, L et al. (2005) The global burden of disease attributable to low consumption of fruit and vegetables: implications for the global strategy on diet. Bull World Health Organ 83, 100108.
7. Luo, W, Morrison, H, de Groh, M et al. (2007) The burden of adult obesity in Canada. Chronic Dis Can 27, 135144.
8. World Health Organization (2015) Noncommunicable diseases. (accessed September 2016).
9. Michie, S, Ashford, S, Sniehotta, FF et al. (2011) A refined taxonomy of behaviour change techniques to help people change their physical activity and healthy eating behaviours: the CALO-RE taxonomy. Psychol Health 26, 14791498.
10. Foster, GD, Makris, AP & Bailer, BA (2005) Behavioral treatment of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 82, Suppl. 1, 230S235S.
11. Wadden, TA, Webb, VL, Moran, CH et al. (2012) Lifestyle modification for obesity: new developments in diet, physical activity, and behavior therapy. Circulation 125, 11571170.
12. Fitzpatrick, SL, Wischenka, D, Appelhans, BM et al. (2016) An evidence-based guide for obesity treatment in primary care. Am J Med 129, 115.e1e7.
13. Vallis, M, Piccinini-Vallis, H, Sharma, AM et al. (2013) Clinical review: Modified 5 As: minimal intervention for obesity counseling in primary care. Can Fam Physician 59, 2731.
14. Contendo, IR (2008) Nutrition education: linking research, theory and practice. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 17, 176179.
15. Locke, EA & Latham, GP (2002) Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. A 35-year odyssey. Am Psychol 57, 705717.
16. Locke, EA & Latham, GP (2006) New directions in goal-setting theory. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 15, 265268.
17. Brown, VA, Bartholomew, LK & Naik, AD (2007) Management of chronic hypertension in older men: an exploration of patient goal-setting. Patient Educ Couns 69, 9399.
18. Palmer, NR, Bartholomew, LK, McCurdy, SA et al. (2013) Transitioning from active treatment: colorectal cancer survivors’ health promotion goals. Palliat Support Care 11, 101109.
19. Krukowski, RA, Tilford, JM, Harvey-Berino, J et al. (2011) Comparing behavioral weight loss modalities: incremental cost-effectiveness of an Internet-based versus an in-person condition. Obesity (Silver Spring) 19, 16291635.
20. Duncan, M, Vandelanotte, C, Kolt, GS et al. (2014) Effectiveness of a web- and mobile phone-based intervention to promote physical activity and healthy eating in middle-aged males: randomized controlled trial of the ManUp study. J Med Internet Res 16, e136.
21. Short, CE, Vandelanotte, C, Dixon, MW et al. (2014) Examining participant engagement in an information technology-based physical activity and nutrition intervention for men: the ManUp randomized controlled trial. JMIR Res Protoc 3, e2.
22. O’Donnell, S, Greene, GW & Blissmer, B (2014) The effect of goal setting on fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity level in a web-based intervention. J Nutr Educ Behav 46, 570575.
23. Mouttapa, M, Robertson, TP, McEligot, AJ et al. (2011) The Personal Nutrition Planner: a 5-week, computer-tailored intervention for women. J Nutr Educ Behav 43, 165172.
24. Dekkers, JC, van Wier, MF, Ariens, GA et al. (2011) Comparative effectiveness of lifestyle interventions on cardiovascular risk factors among a Dutch overweight working population: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Public Health 11, 49.
25. Drieling, RL, Ma, J, Thiyagarajan, S et al. (2011) An Internet-based osteoporotic fracture risk program: effect on knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 20, 18951907.
26. van Wier, MF, Ariens, GA, Dekkers, JC et al. (2006) ALIFE@Work: a randomised controlled trial of a distance counselling lifestyle programme for weight control among an overweight working population [ISRCTN04265725]. BMC Public Health 6, 140.
27. Sternfeld, B, Block, C, Quesenberry, CP et al. (2009) Improving diet and physical activity with ALIVE: a worksite randomized trial. Am J Prev Med 36, 475483.
28. Greene, GW, White, AA, Hoerr, SL et al. (2012) Impact of an online healthful eating and physical activity program for college students. Am J Health Promot 27, e47e58.
29. McConnon, A, Kirk, SF, Cockroft, JE et al. (2007) The Internet for weight control in an obese sample: results of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Health Serv Res 7, 206.
30. Kelders, SM, Van Gemert-Pijnen, JE, Werkman, A et al. (2011) Effectiveness of a web-based intervention aimed at healthy dietary and physical activity behavior: a randomized controlled trial about users and usage. J Med Internet Res 13, e32.
31. Binks, M & van Mierlo, T (2010) Utilization patterns and user characteristics of an ad libitum Internet weight loss program. J Med Internet Res 12, e9.
32. Neve, M, Morgan, PJ, Jones, PR et al. (2010) Effectiveness of web-based interventions in achieving weight loss and weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Obes Rev 11, 306321.
33. Eysenbach, G (2005) The law of attrition. J Med Internet Res 7, e11.
34. Anhoj, J & Jensen, AH (2004) Using the Internet for life style changes in diet and physical activity: a feasibility study. J Med Internet Res 6, e28.
35. Papadaki, A & Scott, JA (2006) Process evaluation of an innovative healthy eating website promoting the Mediterranean diet. Health Educ Res 21, 206218.
36. Lyden, JR, Zickmund, SL, Bhargava, TD et al. (2013) Implementing health information technology in a patient-centered manner: patient experiences with an online evidence-based lifestyle intervention. J Healthc Qual 35, 4757.
37. McTigue, KM, Bhargava, T, Bryce, CL et al. (2011) Patient perspectives on the integration of an intensive online behavioral weight loss intervention into primary care. Patient Educ Couns 83, 261264.
38. Morgan, PJ, Warren, JM, Lubans, DR et al. (2011) Engaging men in weight loss: experiences of men who participated in the male only SHED-IT pilot study. Obes Res Clin Pract 5, e239e248.
39. Morgan, PJ, Lubans, DR, Collins, CE et al. (2011) 12-month outcomes and process evaluation of the SHED-IT RCT: an Internet-based weight loss program targeting men. Obesity (Silver Spring) 19, 142151.
40. Frensham, LJ, Zarnowiecki, DM, Parfitt, G et al. (2014) The experiences of participants in an innovative online resource designed to increase regular walking among rural cancer survivors: a qualitative pilot feasibility study. Support Care Cancer 22, 19231929.
41. Royall, D, Haresign, H & Hanning, RM (2007) Evaluation of an online tool for assessment of nutrient intake and activity levels. Presented at Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research Dietetic Research Event, Vancouver, Canada, 6–9 June 2007. (accessed September 2016).
42. Doran, GT (1981) There’s a SMART way to write management’s goals and objectives. Manage Rev 70, 3536.
43. Lieffers, JR, Haresign, H, Mehling, C et al. (2016) A retrospective analysis of real-world use of the eaTracker® My Goals website by adults from Ontario and Alberta, Canada. BMC Public Health 16, 978.
44. Tong, A, Sainsbury, P & Craig, J (2007) Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. Int J Qual Health Care 19, 349357.
45. Creswell, JW (2008) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River: NJ: Pearson Education.
46. Lincoln, YS & Guba, EG (1985) Naturalistic Inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
47. Bogdan, RC & Biklen, SK (2003) Qualitative Reseach for Education: An Introduction to Theories and Methods, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
48. Patton, MQ (2002) Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
49. Hsieh, HF & Shannon, SE (2005) Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qual Health Res 15, 12771288.
50. Merriam, SB (1998) Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
51. Creswell, JW (2007) Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
52. Fukuoka, Y, Lindgren, T & Jong, S (2012) Qualitative exploration of the acceptability of a mobile phone and pedometer-based physical activity program in a diverse sample of sedentary women. Public Health Nurs 29, 232240.
53. Verwey, R, van der Weegen, S, Spreeuwenberg, M et al. (2014) Technology combined with a counseling protocol to stimulate physical activity of chronically ill patients in primary care. Stud Health Technol Inform 201, 264270.
54. Verheijden, MW, Jans, MP, Hildebrandt, VH et al. (2007) Rates and determinants of repeated participation in a web-based behavior change program for healthy body weight and healthy lifestyle. J Med Internet Res 9, e1.
55. Neve, MJ, Collins, CE & Morgan, PJ (2010) Dropout, nonusage attrition, and pretreatment predictors of nonusage attrition in a commercial web-based weight loss program. J Med Internet Res 12, e69.
56. Steele, R, Mummery, KW & Dwyer, T (2007) Development and process evaluation of an Internet-based physical activity behaviour change program. Patient Educ Couns 67, 127136.
57. Rogers, EM (2003) Diffusion of Innovations , 5th ed. New York: Free Press.
58. Greenhalgh, T, Robert, G, Macfarlane, F et al. (2004) Diffusion of innovations in service organizations: systematic review and recommendations. Milbank Q 82, 581629.
59. Casey, M, Hayes, PS, Glynn, F et al. (2014) Patients’ experiences of using a smartphone application to increase physical activity: the SMART MOVE qualitative study in primary care. Br J Gen Pract 64, e500e508.
60. Shigaki, CL, Koopman, RJ, Kabel, A et al. (2014) Successful weight loss: how information technology is used to lose. Telemed J E Health 20, 144151.
61. Tang, J, Abraham, C, Stamp, E et al. (2015) How can weight-loss app designers’ best engage and support users? A qualitative investigation. Br J Health Psychol 20, 151171.
62. Munson, SA & Consolvo, S (2012) Exploring goal-setting, rewards, self-monitoring, and sharing to motivate physical activity. Presented at 6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (PervasiveHealth) and Workshops, San Diego, CA, USA, 21–24 May 2012, pp. 25–32. (accessed November 2016).


Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Lieffers supplementary material S1
Lieffers supplementary material

 PDF (546 KB)
546 KB
Supplementary materials

Lieffers supplementary material S2
Lieffers supplementary material

 PDF (95 KB)
95 KB
Supplementary materials

Lieffers supplementary material S3
Lieffers supplementary material

 PDF (265 KB)
265 KB

The website-based eaTracker® ‘My Goals’ feature: a qualitative evaluation

  • Jessica RL Lieffers (a1), Helen Haresign (a2), Christine Mehling (a2), Jose F Arocha (a1) and Rhona M Hanning (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.