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Telephone Counseling Promotes Dietary Change in Healthy Adults: Results of a Pilot Trial

Newman, Vicky A., Flatt, Shirley W., Pierce, John P.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2008 v.108 no.8 pp. 1350-1354
food intake, diet counseling, beans, dietary fat, dietary fiber, nutritional intervention, eating habits, blood plasma, telemedicine, carotenoids, vegetables, nationalities and ethnic groups, behavior change, adults, whole grain foods
Telephone counseling is increasingly reported to be an effective behavior change strategy, but more studies in broader populations are needed. This uncontrolled pilot trial investigated whether a 3-month/eight-call telephone counseling intervention could promote dietary changes associated with reduced chronic disease risk in adults consuming <5.0 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. Between 2002 and 2004, 97 adults (mean age 46 years; range 21 to 84 years) completed the intervention and a follow-up assessment at 6 months. Approximately half were of nonwhite ethnicity (53%). The majority were women (95%) and had never had cancer (89%). The intervention promoted daily intakes of three to five vegetable servings, two to four fruit servings, and three whole-grain and/or beans/legumes servings. Average total daily intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans/legumes, fiber, and fat were assessed at baseline and at 6 months, each by a set of three 24-hour recalls. Plasma carotenoids were measured on a subsample (n=41) as an objective biomarker of vegetable and fruit intake. Change in mean self-reported dietary intake (ie, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans/legumes, fiber, and fat) and plasma carotenoids were compared by paired t tests. The intervention was associated with a significant (P<0.001) increase in vegetable servings per day (baseline 2.1 servings per day, 6 months 3.5 servings per day; 67% increase), fruit servings per day (baseline 1.4 servings per day, 6 months 2.4 servings per day; 71% increase), and whole-grain and/or bean servings per day (baseline 1.0 serving per day, 6 months 1.4 servings per day; 40% increase). These changes were corroborated by a significant (P<0.001) increase in total plasma carotenoids. This 3-month/eight-call telephone counseling intervention was associated with dietary change in healthy adults consuming fewer than five servings per day of vegetables and fruit at study entry.