A comparison of knowledge and attitudes about diet and health among 35- to 75-year-old adults in the United States and Geneva, Switzerland

Am J Public Health. 2001 Mar;91(3):418-24. doi: 10.2105/ajph.91.3.418.


Objectives: This study compared responses of US and Geneva residents to items on analogous questionnaires concerning knowledge and attitudes about diet and health.

Methods: Comparable data were available from 2 population-based sample surveys: the Cancer Control Supplement of the 1987 National Health Interview Survey and the 1994 Bus Santé 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland. Samples included 10,366 US respondents and 698 Geneva respondents, aged 35 to 74 years. The analysis involved descriptive statistics, contingency tables, and linear regression models.

Results: In both the United States and Geneva, health consciousness was greater among women and more highly educated persons than among other groups. Compared with Americans, Genevans assigned more importance to avoiding salt, sugar, and overweight (odds ratio = 1.6, 2.9, and 5.9, respectively) and less importance to lowering cholesterol (odds ratio = 0.6). Genevans were more likely to recognize the relatively high fiber content of lettuce, carrots, and apples. Recognition of low-fat foods was slightly better in the United States.

Conclusions: Knowledge and attitudes differed despite high general diet and health awareness in both populations. Identifying why generally similar dietary guidance messages are embraced to different extents across cultures may facilitate global implementation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland
  • United States