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Research into maintaining a healthy lifestyle

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Together with ZonMw, the Heart Foundation is investing €7.5 million in research into maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to find new ways to make healthy choices and better maintain healthy behavior.

Challenge for researchers

Every day we are tempted to live healthier lives. With healthy cookbooks, health apps or special lifestyle coaches. Despite all these aids, many people do not manage to eat healthy and exercise enough in practice.

How do you ensure that people do maintain a healthy life? With an investment of €7.5 million, the Heart Foundation challenges researchers to find 3 accessible and proven effective ways to achieve this.

Healthy food choices in the supermarket

Can you achieve that people opt for healthier products with adjustments in the supermarket? And does that also lead to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure or a healthier weight? Dr Joline Beulens (Amsterdam UMC) and her team will investigate this. She wants to do this through adjustments in the supermarket such as price reductions, promotions and prominent placement of healthy products.

The researchers combine the research in the supermarket with a personalized app that stimulates exercise. They will investigate the effects on a large group of people with a low socio-economic status.

Various parties are working together in this research: Vumc, Utrecht University, the Nutrition Center and supermarket chain Coop.

Teach healthy habits at an early age

Prof. dr. Dr Karien Stronks of the Academic Medical Center is leading a study into new ways of teaching young people healthy behaviour. This concerns nutrition, exercise and sitting and sleeping behaviour. The researchers will investigate this among young people in Amsterdam aged 10 to 14, from lower socio-economic groups. Overweight is more common in these groups.

The researchers are making changes in the environment of these young people, who should encourage healthy behavior and try to discourage unhealthy behavior.

The study will run for 4 years. The researchers will measure the effects of the interventions on the health behavior of young people. And they look at changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as obesity, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

The researchers hope to expand the program to other cities in the future. “We know that healthy living lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. But how do you cope with all the temptations around you?”

Lifestyle coaching and reward

Prof. dr. Dr Andrea Evers of Leiden University is project leader of a study into a healthy lifestyle among cardiovascular patients. This is especially important for them, because it can actually reduce the chance of getting even sicker. However, they do not always succeed in living a healthy life.

In this project, the researchers want to know whether you can encourage patients to live healthier lives with rewards. Participants receive individual lifestyle coaching and earn bonus points if they make healthy choices. These bonus points can be exchanged for fun outings, discounts at large retail chains and/or a discount on the personal contribution of the health insurance.

The researchers hope this will make healthy behavior as attractive as possible. They strive for 2 out of 3 participants to continue living a healthy life. This means not to smoke, to exercise enough and to eat healthy.

Leiden University, the Leiden University Medical Center and the e Health company Vital 10 are working together in this research.

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