Healthy Choices Catch On

Michigan Fitness Foundation


Healthy Choices Catch On, formerly known as They Learn from Watching You, is a social marketing campaign designed to influence nutrition and physical activity behaviors among SNAP-Ed eligible residents in Michigan. This campaign has been effectively engaging Michigan residents since 2006. Ongoing evaluation suggested that, though the messaging remained impactful, priority audiences may be building message fatigue. Beginning in 2018, new messages using the tagline Healthy Choices Catch On were tested with images of children and parents being active and eating healthy together as an extension of the core messages used since 2012.

The campaign uses USDA core messages to emphasize parents as a child’s role model and first teacher. Primary intervention objectives are:

  • Influence healthy eating and physical activity behaviors of SNAP-Ed eligible populations.
  • Reinforce the importance of parents and caregivers as healthy behavior role models for children.
  • Promote messages aligned with SNAP-Ed direct education and policy, systems, and environmental initiatives, creating community wrap-around.

Core messages of the 2020 Campaign are:

  • Healthy Choices Catch On
  • Show them the way: eat five a day
  • Show them the way: go out and play

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Social Marketing

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Messages are designed for adults, parents, and caregivers and delivered in community settings. The scope of the Campaign is adjusted annually, including the settings where it is delivered. Geotargeting is used to select billboards, transit signs, and social media buys in SNAP-eligible census tracts to reach priority populations.

Setting: Community

Target Audience: Parents/Mothers/Fathers, Adults

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

There are three main delivery methods of Campaign messages:

  • Billboard (traditional and mobile) and Interior/Exterior Transit signs;
  • Collateral, like banners, A-frames, and signs used in local programs; and
  • Website, social media campaign posts, over the top television, and mobile texting.

The Campaign scope is revised annually, based on evaluation and local needs. The 2018 Campaign included:

  • 628 billboards, 676 exterior transit signs, and 1,690 interior transit signs in SNAP-Ed eligible census tracts within 16 counties, where 80%+ of SNAP-eligible Michiganders live. Eyes on impressions totaled 239,030,853 (153,982,189 billboard and 85,048,664 transit).
  • Locally, Campaign collateral were used during programming at farmers markets, grocery, stores, food banks and pantries, and at schools.
  • Social media messages posted on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

Intervention Materials

Materials promoting fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity are available for a variety of channels including billboards, bus and truck wraps, public service announcements, and print materials. There is intentional integration with Michigan Harvest of the Month recipes and educational resources. Campaign materials can be found at:

Intervention Costs

Materials available at no cost.

Evidence Summary

The Transtheoretical Model (stages of change) is used to understand the influence of the Campaign on priority populations. The Stages of Change Model categorizes individuals’ readiness to make positive dietary and physical activity changes into one of five stages and is mediated by constructs including self-efficacy and the pros and cons of making a change. The goal of the Campaign is to help people progress along the stages of change towards increasing their healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

The reach, awareness, and effectiveness of the campaign are evaluated annually. The most recent findings relate to the 2018 Campaign, which was evaluated in 2019. A population-based survey was randomly distributed to SNAP-eligible residents in the 15 counties where billboard and transit messages were placed. Mail invitations to complete a web survey were sent in two waves in November 2017, totaling 8,000 paper invitations. A third wave of surveys were distributed in December 2017 through an online research panel. Data were weighted to match profiles of SNAP recipients based on area of residence, gender, and age to allow findings to be generalizable to 484,270 SNAP-eligible people.

Intentions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and be active were measured. Questions aligned with indicators ST1 and ST3 in the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework and the Transtheoretical Stages of Change. The Stages of Change include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

  • 63% of people are preparing to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption in the next month. Mothers and people exposed to campaign messages tended to be further along the process of changing dietary behavior.
  • 38% of people are preparing to increase their exercise frequency in the next month. People exposed to campaign messages tended to be further along the model than those who were unexposed.

Unaided recall of messages is measured annually and is aligned with the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework indicator MT12. Campaign exposure has increased steadily over the past 5 years. In 2018, campaign exposure was 63% overall and 74% among mothers. This equates to 423,744 SNAP-eligible adults and 132,441 mothers.

Repeated exposure to social marketing messages resulted in improved health outcomes. After controlling for demographic factors, adults with a greater number of exposures to campaign messages were more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, serve them to children, and encourage family members to eat more fruits and vegetables. Those with more exposures were also more likely to be physically active and encourage others to get more physical activity. There could potentially be a maximal dose effect occurring around 50 exposures, meaning that more than 50 exposures had little increased influence on outcomes.

Classification: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual ST1, ST3
Environmental Settings
Sectors of Influence MT12

Evaluation Materials

Evaluation materials are available upon request.

Additional Information

Website: The They Learn from Watching You websites ( and include nutrition and physical activity tips for parents, videos, and recipes.

Contact Person(s):
Lila Gutuskey, PhD
Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation
P.O. Box 27187
Lansing, MI, 48909
Phone: 1-800-434-8642