The impact of a bodyweight and physical activity intervention (BeWEL) initiated through a national colorectal cancer screening programme: randomised controlled trial

Annie S Anderson* (Corresponding Author), Angela M Craigie, Stephen Caswell, Shaun Treweek, Martine Stead, Maureen Macleod, Fergus Daly, Jill Belch, Jackie Rodger, Alison Kirk, Anne Ludbrook, Petra Rauchaus, Patricia Norwood, Joyce Thompson, Jane Wardle, Robert JC Steele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective To evaluate the impact of a diet and physical activity intervention (BeWEL) on weight change in people with a body mass index >25 weight (kg)/height (m)2 at increased risk of colorectal cancer and other obesity related comorbidities.

Design Multicentre, parallel group, randomised controlled trial.

Setting Four Scottish National Health Service health boards.

Participants 329 overweight or obese adults (aged 50 to 74 years) who had undergone colonoscopy after a positive faecal occult blood test result, as part of the national bowel screening programme, and had a diagnosis of adenoma confirmed by histopathology. 163 were randomised to intervention and 166 to control.

Intervention Participants were randomised to a control group (weight loss booklet only) or 12 month intervention group (three face to face visits with a lifestyle counsellor plus monthly 15 minute telephone calls). A goal of 7% reduction in body weight was set and participants received a personalised energy prescription (2508 kJ (600 kcal) below that required for weight maintenance) and bodyweight scales. Motivational interviewing techniques explored self assessed confidence, ambivalence, and personal values concerning weight. Behavioural strategies included goal setting, identifying intentions of implementation, self monitoring of body weight, and counsellor feedback about reported diet, physical activity, and weight change.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was weight change over 12 months. Secondary outcomes included changes in waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting cardiovascular biomarkers, and glucose metabolism variables, physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption.

Results At 12 months, data on the primary outcome were available for 148 (91%) participants in the intervention group and 157 (95%) in the control group. Mean weight loss was 3.50 kg (SD 4.91) (95% confidence interval 2.70 to 4.30) in the intervention group compared with 0.78 kg (SD 3.77) (0.19 to 1.38) in the control group. The group difference was 2.69 kg (95% confidence interval 1.70 to 3.67). Differences between groups were significant for waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose level, diet, and physical activity. No reported adverse events were considered to be related to trial participation.

Conclusions Significant weight loss can be achieved by a diet and physical activity intervention initiated within a national colorectal cancer screening programme, offering considerable potential for risk reduction of disease in older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberg1823
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding: This study was funded by the MRC National Prevention
Research Initiative (, grant award No G0802030.

National Prevention Research Initiative is a national research initiative administered by the Medical Research Council made up of the following
funding partners: Alzheimer’s Research Trust; Alzheimer’s Society;
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorate; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Health and Social Care Research and Development Office for Northern Ireland; Medical Research Council; Welsh Assembly Government; and World Cancer Research Fund. Further financial
support was provided by NHS Research Scotland to carry out this work.
The Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, is core funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates


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