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Social support as a predictor of dietary change in a low-income population

Abstract: Social support has been found to predict success with health behaviour change but, as yet, few studies closely examine the relationship between social support and dietary change in a low-income

population. We developed a social support for dietary change measure for a low-income hypercholesterolemic population and tested its predictive utility in a clinical trial with a dietary intervention.

Questions were administered by telephone to 443 patients enrolled in the trial. Dietary change was measured by the Dietary Risk Assessment. Factor analysis revealed three social support factors: friend, family and negative support, and a fourth factor, motivation to change. Multiple regression analysis revealed that motivation to change was predictive of change to a less atherogenic diet. Results of a gender-stratified analysis revealed that friend support was a significant predictor of dietary change for women but not for men. Interaction effects indicated that high friend support increased the relationship between greater motivation and diet improvement, and that motivation was a stronger predictor for men than women. Results of this study indicate that friend support is especially helpful for women who are trying to change their diets while, for men, the most important factor is motivation.