Purpose. The purpose of this study was to provide further information about preferences for types and formats (e.g., correspondence vs. face to face) of eating and exercise programs, actual participation rates in a variety of offered programs, and characteristics of program participants vs. nonparticipants. Design. Over a 3-year period, a large sample of community volunteers was given the opportunity to participate in various forms of diet and exercise programs as part of a weight gain prevention study. Setting. The study was conducted at a university and three local health department sites. Subjects. Subjects in the study were 616 individuals participating in the Pound of Prevention study (POP), a 3-year randomized evaluation of an intervention for preventing weight gain. Measures. The primary outcomes assessed were participation rates for each program offering. Program participants were also compared to those who did not participate on demographic characteristics, smoking, diet behavior, exercise behavior, and weight concern. Results. Survey results indicated that correspondence formats for delivery of health education programs were rated as more desirable than face-to-face formats. Participation for program offerings ranged from 0 to 16 % of the study population. Participation data were consistent with survey results and showed participants' preference for correspondence formats even more strongly. Program offerings attracted health-conscious participants with higher education and income levels. Conclusions. These data suggest that some community members will get interested and take part in low-cost, minimal contact programs for exercise and weight control. Future research efforts should focus on investigating ways to increase participation in brief or minimal contact programs, particularly among groups that may be difficult to reach and at high risk for the development of obesity.
- Minimal Contact