IMR Press / JOMH / Volume 18 / Issue 9 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jomh1809191
Open Access Original Research
A Self-Guided Lifestyle Intervention for Young Men: Findings from the ACTIVATE Randomized Pilot Trial
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1 Department of Health Behavior and Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA 23219, USA
2 Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
3 Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA 23219, USA
*Correspondence: (Jean M. Reading)
J. Mens. Health 2022, 18(9), 191;
Submitted: 2 April 2022 | Revised: 11 May 2022 | Accepted: 17 May 2022 | Published: 14 September 2022
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Background: Young men are at high risk for developing obesity-related health complications, yet are markedly underrepresented in lifestyle interventions. This pilot study examined the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a lifestyle intervention (self-guided + health risk messaging) targeting young men. Methods: 35 young men (Age = 29.3 ± 4.27; BMI = 30.8 ± 4.26; 34% racial/ethnic minority) were randomly assigned to the intervention or delayed treatment control. The intervention (ACTIVATE) included 1 virtual group session, digital tools (wireless scale, self-monitoring app), access to self-paced content via a secure website, and 12 weekly texts to reinforce health risk messaging. Fasted objective weight was assessed remotely at baseline and 12-weeks. Perceived risk was assessed via survey at baseline, 2-week, and 12-week. T-tests were used to compare weight outcomes between arms. Linear regressions examined the association between percent weight change and perceived risk change. Results: Recruitment was successful as evidenced by 109% of target enrollment achieved in a 2-month period. Retention was 86% at 12 weeks, with no differences by arm (p = 0.17). Participants in the intervention arm experienced modest weight loss at 12 weeks, whereas slight gains were observed in the control arm (–1.6% ± 2.5 vs. +0.31% ± 2.8, p = 0.04). Change in perceived risk was not associated with change in percent weight (p > 0.05). Conclusions: A self-guided lifestyle intervention showed initial promise for weight management among young men, but these findings are limited by small sample size. More research is needed to bolster weight loss outcomes while retaining the scalable self-guided approach. Clinical Trial Registration: NCT04267263 (

behavioral interventions
weight loss
health risk messages
low intensity
Fig. 1.
CA093423/ NIH/NCI training
UL1TR002649/ VCU OPT for Health lab (JGL PI) and VCU CTSA award
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