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Am J Public Health. 1994 May; 84(5): 783–787.
PMCID: PMC1615043

Improving dietary behavior: the effectiveness of tailored messages in primary care settings.


OBJECTIVES. To achieve the Healthy People 2000 objectives, public health professionals must develop effective dietary interventions that address psychosocial and behavioral components of change. This study tested the effect of individually computer-tailored messages designed to decrease fat intake and increase fruit and vegetable intake. METHODS. Adult patients from four North Carolina family practices were surveyed at baseline and then randomly assigned to one of two interventions or to a control group. The first intervention consisted of individually computer-tailored nutrition messages; the second consisted of nontailored nutrition information based on the 1990 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Patients were resurveyed 4 months postintervention. RESULTS. The tailored intervention produced significant decreases in total fat and saturated fat scores compared with those of the control group (P < .05). Total fat was decreased in the tailored group by 23%, in the nontailored group by 9%, and in the control group by 3%. Fruit and vegetable consumption did not increase in any study group. Seventy-three percent of the tailored intervention group recalled receiving a message, compared with 33% of the nontailored intervention group. CONCLUSIONS. Tailored nutrition messages are effective in promoting dietary fat reduction for disease prevention.

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