Background. We evaluated a multifaceted preventive nutrition intervention to improve dietary habits among adult primary care patients. Methods. We randomized six group practices in a managed care organization. Participants completed baseline and 3-month follow-up surveys. The intervention comprised (1) mailed personalized dietary recommendations and educational booklets focusing on fruits and vegetables, red meat, and dairy foods, tailored to patients' baseline intake and stage of readiness to change eating behaviors; (2) verbal endorsement by the primary care provider of the benefits of these recommendations; and (3) two motivational counseling sessions with telephone counselors to set dietary goals. Results. Among the 230 subjects in the intervention group and 274 in the control group, mean age was 54 years, 70% were female, and 91% were white and 7% African American. Eighty-nine percent of the participants completed the follow-up survey. We measured change in intake of foods using results from the baseline and follow-up food frequency questionnaires. Using an intention-to-treat analysis and adjusting for age, sex, race, and baseline intake, the change in fruit and vegetable intake in the intervention group was 0.6 (95% confidence interval 0.3, 0.8) servings/day higher than in the control group. There was no intervention effect on red meat and dairy products. Conclusions. Tailored clinical nutrition interventions that combine brief physician endorsement with practice supports may be effective in changing patients' eating behavior. © 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.
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