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Prev Med. 1992 May;21(3):279-91.

Correlates of maintenance of a low-fat diet among women in the Women's Health Trial.

Author information

1
Cancer Prevention Research Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98104.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Women's Health Trial (WHT) was a feasibility study for a randomized controlled trial designed to test the hypothesis that a reduction in dietary fat reduces breast cancer incidence among women age 45 to 69. Between 1984 and 1988, 2,064 women participated in its two phases.

METHODS:

A follow-up study of 525 women who were randomized to receive the WHT dietary intervention program was conducted to assess maintenance of the diet 1 year on average after the trial ended. Among 448 participants, the mean percentage of energy from fat as measured by a food frequency questionnaire was 40.0% at baseline, 26.3% at the end of the trial, and 27.7% at follow-up. Based on 408 women with complete data, a recursive model was estimated, describing the influence of baseline characteristics of the women on attendance at intervention program sessions, adherence to the diet during the trial, and long-term maintenance of the diet after the trial ended. The effects of women's experiences during the trial on adherence and long-term maintenance were investigated as well.

RESULTS:

Attendance at the educational sessions was strongly related to adherence to the diet during the trial (P less than 0.001), and adherence was the most important predictor of long-term maintenance (P less than 0.001). The percentage of energy from dietary fat at baseline was an important correlate of both adherence (P less than 0.001) and long-term maintenance (P less than 0.001). College-educated women were more likely to adhere to the diet during the trial (P less than 0.001). Feelings of deprivation adversely affected long-term maintenance (P less than 0.01), primarily through their effect on adherence during the trial (P = 0.01). Costliness of the diet in time and money negatively influenced long-term maintenance (P less than 0.05). Development of a distaste for fat encouraged adherence (P = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS:

The low-fat dietary pattern established during the WHT was maintained for as long as 20 months after the trial ended. A recursive model was useful in analyzing the process and correlates of long-term maintenance of dietary behavior change. Both predisposing variables and women's experiences while on a low-fat diet were associated with long-term maintenance. The results suggest that feelings of deprivation should be avoided, perhaps by use of low-fat substitutes, by those attempting to lower their dietary fat and that more research is needed on the development of a distaste for fat among individuals who adopt low-fat diets.

PMID:
1614990
DOI:
10.1016/0091-7435(92)90027-f
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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