Decreasing the use of edible oils in China using WeChat and theories of behavior change: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.
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The consumption of edible oils in China has increased rapidly in recent years, and the total amount of edible-oil intake in the country has ranked first in the world. The choice and intake of edible oils, as a source of fats, are important factors that affect people's health. Many chronic diseases are closely associated with high-calorie and saturated-fat intake. The influence of traditional concepts that promote the use of edible oils among women, particularly housewives, plays a key role in a household's diet and nutrition because the diet-related knowledge, attitude and behaviour of housewives are dominant factors in planning and preparing their family's meals. WeChat, which was developed by Tencent, is a multipurpose messaging, social media and mobile payment application (app) in China. Described by Forbes as one of the world's most powerful apps, WeChat provides considerable convenience in disseminating knowledge. Accordingly, this study aims to design a pilot intervention to decrease the use of edible oils in Chinese households. The intervention, which is based on theories of behaviour change, will be implemented through WeChat. The study design is a randomised controlled trial that adopts knowledge, attitude and practice, social cognitive and stages of change theories as theoretical models. A total of 800 housewives between the ages of 25 and 45 years will be recruited on WeChat and from the communities in four areas (including rural and urban) in Chongqing, China. A self-administered questionnaire will be used to collect information regarding age, educational level, occupation, family members, edible-oil intake habits, knowledge of edible oils and WeChat usage habits. A total of 200 participants will be selected and randomly assigned to two equal-sized groups: group A (the intervention group) and group B (the control group). Group A will receive health education regarding edible oils for four consecutive weeks, whereas group B will be treated as the blank control. Each participant will complete a battery of knowledge, attitude and behaviour tests immediately, 3 months and 6 months after the intervention. In addition, weight, moisture rate, fat rate, visceral fat level and body mass index will be calculated using a multifunctional weighing scale, namely, Tanita BC-601 (Japan). The study is currently in the design stage. This study aims to increase knowledge and awareness of the appropriate use of edible oils, thereby encouraging participants to change behaviour by decreasing the intake of unhealthy levels of edible oils. It will be the first intervention to investigate the use of edible oils in China through WeChat. We predict that receiving health education regarding edible oils through WeChat will substantially improve the knowledge and attitude of the respondents. The members of the intervention group will have increased awareness and will be willing to decrease their use of edible oils to remain healthy. Results of this study may provide scientific evidence for the effect of health education through WeChat on edible oil-intake behaviour, thereby offering a comprehensive intervention to decrease the use of edible oils and promote a healthy lifestyle. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (primary registry in the World Health Organisation registry network): ChiCTR-IOR-17013472 . Registered on 21 November 2017.
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