Fat consumption has decreased since the 1950's in the United States, and coronary heart disease mortality rates have gradually declined as well. These changes might be associated with changes of attitudes due to increased information about the relationship between fat consumption and heart disease. The purpose of this study was to determine whether knowledge and attitudes concerning fat and foods high or low in fat had an impact on peoples' actual fat consumption. For this study, the data of fat consumption and knowledge/attitudes of people came from the 1989-1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals/Diet and Health Knowledge Survey (CSFII/DHKS), conducted by USDA. It was found that women 65 years and older tried to avoid more fat and consume more vegetables than those aged 25-64 years : in fact, the actual fat consumption of those over 65 years was lowest among all age categories. However, the elderly did not have as much nutrition knowledge as people aged 25-64 years. Attitudes concerning vegetables and health were a better predictor of fat consumption than those concerning fat itself. However, low-fat milk consumption was influenced by nutrition knowledge as well as attitudes about fat intake : people with better knowledge and attitudes concerning fat intake consumed more low-fat milk. This could be resulted from the reason that low-fat milk is a good substitute for whole milk. The conclusion of this study is that there are two essential elements in healthy eating patterns : a) good attitudes towards fat and vegetable consumption, and b) correct nutritional knowledge concerning the fat-content of foods and the availability of alternatives.
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