The objective of this study was to describe the cancer prevention-related nutrition knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes of U.S. adults. Data collected for the 1992 National Health Interview Survey Cancer Epidemiology Supplement were analyzed. The Supplement was completed by 12,005 adults aged 18 years and older. Frequency distributions were calculated. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to explore differences in knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes according to selected factors. Most adults (83%) believe that good eating habits may reduce their chances of developing major diseases. Of those who held this belief, 66% named cancer as a disease that might be related to what people eat or drink. Among those who believed cancer to be related to what people eat or drink, eating more fiber (72%), more fruits and vegetables (66%), and less fat (60%) were mentioned most frequently as foods/nutrients that affect cancer risk. Conflicting dietary advice, cost of eating a healthy diet, and social support were the most salient perceived barriers to having a healthful diet. Knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes were found to vary by age, sex, ethnicity, poverty, and education. Findings suggest that, although a moderate majority are aware of the relationship between diet and cancer, fewer are knowledgeable about nutrients/foods that influence risk. Differences found in knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes by various socioeconomic factors suggest that nutrition intervention strategies may need to be targeted and tailored to various population subgroups.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Harold Dobbs Fellowship for Cancer Research, the Bay Area Nutrition CenterYoung Investigator's Research Grant Program, and the Doctoral Student Support Award supported by the Dowdle Endowment and the Grossman Medical Research Fund. Address for correspondence: Lisa Harnack, R.D., Dr PH., Dlvlslon of Ep~demiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1015; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 01998 SOCIETY FOR NUTRITION EDUCATION