Publication Abstract

Authors: Cotugna N, Subar AF, Heimendinger J, Kahle L

Title: Nutrition and cancer prevention knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and practices: the 1987 National Health Interview Survey.

Journal: J Am Diet Assoc 92(8):963-8

Date: 1992 Aug

Abstract: This article examines the nutrition and cancer prevention knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and self-reported dietary changes of a US national probability sample. The data were drawn from the Cancer Control Supplement of the 1987 National Health Interview Survey, which was answered by 22,043 adults. Thirty-five percent of the sample reported that they had made dietary changes in the past 1 to 5 years for health reasons. Respondents reported eating more vegetables, fruit, lower-fat meats, and whole grains/fiber and less high-fat meats, fats, sweets/snacks, salty foods, refined grain products, alcohol, and dairy products. Those who did not make any dietary changes most often said the reason was that they enjoyed the food they were presently eating and did not want to make any changes. More than 90% of the sample agreed that diet and disease were related and 73% knew that diet and cancer were related, yet 44% believed there was nothing a person could do to reduce the risk of getting cancer or didn't know what could be done. In response to open-ended questions about foods that either increase or decrease cancer risk, vegetables, whole grains/fiber, fruit, and lower-fat meats were thought to decrease risk, and high-fat meats, fats, alcohol, sweets/snacks, and additives were thought to increase cancer risk. We found education and income levels to be the major demographic variables that have an impact on cancer prevention knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs. People with lower incomes and at lower educational levels should be targeted for education about cancer risk reduction.