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Peer support interventions for dietary change may offer cost-effective alternatives to interventions led by health professionals. This process evaluation of a trial to encourage the adoption and maintenance of a Mediterranean diet in a Northern European population at high CVD risk (TEAM-MED) aimed to investigate the feasibility of implementing a group-based peer support intervention for dietary change, positive elements of the intervention and aspects that could be improved. Data on training and support for the peer supporters; intervention fidelity and acceptability; acceptability of data collection processes for the trial and reasons for withdrawal from the trial were considered. Data were collected from observations, questionnaires and interviews, with both peer supporters and trial participants. Peer supporters were recruited and trained to result in successful implementation of the intervention; all intended sessions were run, with the majority of elements included. Peer supporters were complimentary of the training, and positive comments from participants centred around the peer supporters, the intervention materials and the supportive nature of the group sessions. Attendance at the group sessions, however, waned over the intervention, with suggested effects on intervention engagement, enthusiasm and group cohesion. Reduced attendance was reportedly a result of meeting (in)frequency and organisational concerns, but increased social activities and group-based activities may also increase engagement, group cohesion and attendance. The peer support intervention was successfully implemented and tested, but improvements can be suggested and may enhance the successful nature of these types of interventions. Some consideration of personal preferences may also improve outcomes.
Adhering to a Mediterranean diet (MD) is associated with reduced CVD risk. This study aimed to explore methods of increasing MD adoption in a non-Mediterranean population at high risk of CVD, including assessing the feasibility of a developed peer support intervention. The Trial to Encourage Adoption and Maintenance of a MEditerranean Diet was a 12-month pilot parallel group RCT involving individuals aged ≥ 40 year, with low MD adherence, who were overweight, and had an estimated CVD risk ≥ 20 % over ten years. It explored three interventions, a peer support group, a dietician-led support group and a minimal support group to encourage dietary behaviour change and monitored variability in Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS) over time and between the intervention groups, alongside measurement of markers of nutritional status and cardiovascular risk. 118 individuals were assessed for eligibility, and 75 (64 %) were eligible. After 12 months, there was a retention rate of 69 % (peer support group 59 %; DSG 88 %; MSG 63 %). For all participants, increases in MDS were observed over 12 months (P < 0·001), both in original MDS data and when imputed data were used. Improvements in BMI, HbA1c levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the population as a whole. This pilot study has demonstrated that a non-Mediterranean adult population at high CVD risk can make dietary behaviour change over a 12-month period towards an MD. The study also highlights the feasibility of a peer support intervention to encourage MD behaviour change amongst this population group and will inform a definitive trial.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common occurrence globally, and particularly so in pregnancy. There is conflicting evidence regarding the role of vitamin D during pregnancy in non-skeletal health outcomes for both the mother and the neonate. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of maternal total 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) with neonatal anthropometrics and markers of neonatal glycaemia in the Belfast centre of the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) study. Serological samples (n 1585) were obtained from pregnant women in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland, between 24 and 32 weeks’ gestation as part of the HAPO study. 25OHD concentrations were measured by liquid chromatography tandem-MS. Cord blood and neonatal anthropometric measurements were obtained within 72 h of birth. Statistical analysis was performed. After adjustment for confounders, birth weight standard deviation scores (SDS) and birth length SDS were significantly associated with maternal total 25OHD. A doubling of maternal 25OHD at 28 weeks’ gestation was associated with mean birth weight SDS and mean birth length SDS higher by 0·05 and 0·07, respectively (both, P=0·03). There were no significant associations with maternal 25OHD and other measures of neonatal anthropometrics or markers of neonatal glycaemia. In conclusion, maternal total 25OHD during pregnancy was independently associated with several neonatal anthropometric measurements; however, this association was relatively weak.
Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake is associated with reduced risk of a number of non-communicable diseases. Research tends to focus on antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols contained in FV as the main beneficial components to health; however, increasing FV may also alter overall diet profile. Extra FV may be substituted for foods thought to be less healthy, therefore altering the overall macronutrient and/or micronutrient content in the diet. This analysis merged dietary data from four intervention studies in participants with varying health conditions and examined the effect of increased FV consumption on diet profile. Dietary intake was assessed by either diet diaries or diet histories used in four FV randomised intervention studies. All food and drink intake recorded was analysed using WISP version 3.0, and FV portions were manually counted using household measures. Regression analysis revealed significant increases in intakes of energy (172 kJ (+41 kcal)), carbohydrate (+3·9 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)), total sugars (+6·0 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)) and fibre (+0·8 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)) and significant decreases in intakes of total fat (−1·4 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)), SFA (−0·6 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)), MUFA (−0·6 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)), PUFA (−0·1 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)) and starch (−2·1 g/4184 kJ (1000 kcal)) per one portion increase in FV. Significant percentage increases were also observed in vitamin C (+24 %) and -carotene (+20 %) intake, per one portion increase in FV. In conclusion, pooled analysis of four FV intervention studies, that used similar approaches to achieving dietary change, in participants with varying health conditions, demonstrated an increase in energy, total carbohydrate, sugars and fibre intake, and a decrease in fat intake alongside an expected increase in micronutrient intake.
The potential to reduce cardiovascular morbidity through dietary modification remains an area of intense clinical and scientific interest. Any putatively beneficial intervention should be tested within a randomised controlled trial which records appropriate endpoints, ideally incident CVD and death. However, the large sample sizes required for these endpoints and associated high costs mean that the majority of dietary intervention research is conducted over short periods among either healthy volunteers or those at only slightly increased risk, with investigators using a diverse range of surrogate measures to estimate arterial health in these studies. The present review identifies commonly employed techniques, discusses the relative merits of each and highlights emerging approaches.
Pre-eclampsia is a disorder characterised by pregnancy-induced hypertension and new-onset proteinuria occurring in the second half of pregnancy. Worldwide, approximately 2–3% of all pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia. The condition is a major cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Abnormal placentation is an important predisposing factor for pre-eclampsia, while endothelial activation appears to be central to the pathophysiological changes, possibly indicative of a two-stage disorder characterised by reduced placental perfusion and a maternal syndrome. There is increasing evidence that pre-eclampsia is associated with both increased oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant defences, which has led to the hypothesis that oxidative stress may play an important role in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia, perhaps acting as the link in a two-stage model of pre-eclampsia. In support of this hypothesis a small, but important, preliminary study has shown a highly significant (P = 0.02) reduction in the incidence of pre-eclampsia in women at risk who were taking a supplement of vitamins C and E from mid-pregnancy. Furthermore, these findings support the hypothesis that oxidative stress is at least partly responsible for the endothelial dysfunction of pre-eclampsia. Several larger multicentre trials are currently underway to evaluate the efficacy, safety and cost benefits of antioxidant supplementation during pregnancy for the prevention of pre-eclampsia in both low- and high-risk women, including women with diabetes. The results of these trials are awaited with interest.
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