Recruitment and retention strategies for weight loss programmes among young people (18-25 year olds) – Emerging evidence.

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Background: Young people between 18-25 years are a vulnerable age group for weight gain. Over the years, few successful weight loss interventions has been identified in this age group, however, recruiting young adults into weight gain prevention programmes and retaining them is highlighted as a huge challenge. This systematic literature review assesses the emerging evidence of all aspects of recruitment and retention relating to healthy lifestyles among this vulnerable age group.

Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted on five bibliographic databases: Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane Library, for papers published between March 2008 and May 2016. Included papers focused on young adults aged, involved in lifestyle interventions with focus on recruitment and retention strategies.

Results: 1606 citations were identified and 10 articles were included in the review after critically appraisal. Six were intervention studies and four were cross-sectional studies. The three most common recruitment strategies were online media, printed material and direct contact. Despite the increased reach with Facebook and online media, direct contact seem to be more effective in actually recruiting young adults. Strategies for retention need to be tailored to target them by addressing their particular interests, and using visual aids that made them feel identified. Use of monetary incentives is a common practice among this group, and valued for participation. Communication with researchers increases engagement, subject to sensitivity towards over burdening and data confidentiality. Engagement can be achieved by ensuring constant update of information, intervention’s components, and user-friendly devices and applications.

Conclusion: Recruitment and retention still presents a challenge for weight control interventions among young adults. Online strategies have high reach but personal contact is still valuable in the electronic era for recruitment and retention. Online strategies should be handled with sensitivity and ensuring motivations and flexibility in interaction components can prove successful.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternal Medicine Review
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Young Adult
  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Young People
  • Weight Loss
  • Systematic Review


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