The effect of a cluster-randomized controlled trial on lifestyle behaviors among families at risk for developing type 2 diabetes across Europe: the Feel4Diabetes-study

Vicky van Stappen*, Greet Cardon, Marieke de Craemer, Christina Mavrogianni, Nataliya Usheva, Jemina Kivelä, Katja Wikström, Pilar de Miquel-Etayo, Esther M. González-Gil, Anett S. Radó, Anna Nánási, Violeta Iotova, Yannis Manios, Ruben Brondeel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: This study investigated the effect of the Feel4Diabetes-intervention, a 2-year multilevel intervention, on energy balance-related behaviors among European families at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Intervention effects on self-reported physical activity, sedentary behavior and eating behaviors were investigated across and within the participating countries: Belgium, Finland, Greece, Spain, Hungary and Bulgaria. Methods: Families were recruited through schools, located in low socio-economic status areas. In total, 4484 families at risk for developing type 2 diabetes were selected using the FINDRISC-questionnaire. Parents’ and children’s energy balance-related behaviors data were collected by questionnaires at three time points (baseline, mid- and post intervention). Families assigned to the intervention group were invited to participate in a 2-year school-, community-, and family-based intervention to promote a healthier lifestyle, including counseling sessions (first intervention year) and text messages (second intervention year). Families assigned to the control group received standard care, including medical check-up results and recommendations and tips regarding a healthy lifestyle. To assess the intervention-effects, Mixed Models were conducted using the R-Package “lmer “with R v3.2. Results: Significant intervention effects were found on a certain number of families’ lifestyle behaviors. Significant favorable intervention effects were detected on parents’ water consumption and consumption of fruit and vegetables, and on children’s consumption of sweets and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Analyses by country revealed significant favorable intervention effects on water consumption and on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in Belgian parents and on fruit and vegetable consumption among Belgian children, on sweets consumption among Spanish parents and children, and on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among Finnish children. Unfavorable intervention effects were found on the consumption of soft drinks and sugar-containing juices among Hungarian children and parents, while when examining the intervention effects for the overall population and per country, 10 from the 112 investigated outcome variables were improved in the intervention group compared to the control group (9%). Conclusions: The Feel4Diabetes-intervention managed to improve a certain number of targeted lifestyle behaviors while the intervention was not effective on a large number of targeted lifestyle behaviors. The findings of the current study are encouraging, but further research is needed on how we can further improve effectiveness of lifestyle interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes in families at risk. Trial registration: The Feel4Diabetes-study is registered with the clinical trials registry, ID: 643708.
Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

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