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

Am J Public Health. 1994 May;84(5):783-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.5.783.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Family Practice
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*


  • Dietary Fats