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The development of a web-based program to reduce dietary salt intake in schoolchildren: study protocol

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BACKGROUND: Salt intake of schoolchildren in the Australian state of Victoria is high. To protect future cardiovascular health, interventions that seek to reduce the amount of salt in children's diets are required. OBJECTIVE: We sought to develop and pilot test a Web-based program (Digital Education to Limit Salt Intake in the Home [DELISH]) that aims to reduce dietary salt intake among schoolchildren and to improve child and parent knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to salt intake. This paper presents the DELISH study protocol, along with pilot findings used to inform the development of the program. METHODS: The DELISH program is a 5-week Web-based intervention that targets schoolchildren aged 7-10 years and their parents. This is a single-arm study with a pretest and posttest design. We will assess change in salt intake through analysis of 24-hour urinary sodium excretion. Children and parents will complete online surveys assessing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to salt intake. We will assess feasibility of the program via process measures, which include metrics to describe intervention uptake (eg, number of children who complete Web-based sessions and of parents who view online newsletters) and evaluation surveys and interviews conducted with children, parents, and schoolteachers. The first 2 Web sessions developed for children were pilot tested in 19 children aged 8-12 years. RESULTS: Findings from pilot testing indicated that most children (session 1: 18/19, 95%; and session 2: 19/19, 100%) enjoyed completing each session and liked the inclusion of comic strips and interactive games. Commonly reported areas of improvement related to sessions being text and content heavy. Based on these findings, we simplified sessions and developed 3 additional sessions for use in the DELISH program. The DELISH program was implemented during June-December 2016. We expect to have results from this study at the end of 2017. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first Australian study to examine the effectiveness of a Web-based program to reduce salt intake among children in primary school. If shown to be acceptable and effective in lowering salt intake, the DELISH program could be tested using a more rigorous randomized controlled trial design.



JMIR Research protocols





Article number



JMIR Publications


Toronto, Ont.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, Carley Ann Grimes, Alison Booth, Durreajam Khokhar, Madeline West, Claire Margerison, Karen Campbell, Caryl Nowson