Adoption of Lower-fat Food Choices by Americans

S. L. Peterson, P. M. Kris-Etherton, M. Sigman-Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nutrition messages targeting consumption of lower-fat food choices (i.e., use of skim milk, lean meats and/or fat-modified products) have been disseminated to consumers using the population approach. The current level of adoption of these food choices, and the demographics of adopters, are unknown. This study uses the 1989-90, 1990-91, and 1991-92 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals and the Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) package to address these issues and test the applicability of Roger's Diffusion of Innovations theory to lower-fat food choices. There was a significant relationship between year and milk use (p< .001), year and meat use (p< .01), year and product use (p< .001), and year and overall strategy use (p< .001). For milk users, use of skim milk increased from 8.5% in 1989 to 12.8% in 1992, while use of higher-fat milks decreased from 87.4% to 80.8%. Use of fat-modified cheese, pudding, salad dressing, cake, and yogurt increased (3.4% to 4.2%) and use of full-fat products decreased (91.4% to 87.7%) when comparing the first and third years. Conversely, use of lean meats decreased (3.4% to 3.1%) and use of higher-fat meats increased (67.9% to 70.7%) for these years. Overall use of any one strategy increased from 10.5% to 12.6%, and use of more than one strategy increased from 0.7% to 1.4%. In general, adoption rates from 1989-92 were small, indicating that Americans are currently in the early stages of adopting these lower-fat food choices. Skim milk users were more likely to be older, more educated, and Caucasian when compared to users of higher-fat milks (p <.0l). Users of lean meats and fat-modified products were more likely to be older than higher-fat meats users (p <.01) and full-fat products users (p< .01). Users of more than one strategy were more likely to be older, more educated, and female when compared to users of none or one strategy (p <.01). Diffusion of Innovations studies consistently report that early adopters have higher levels of education and income. This study identifies alternative and additional factors, such as age, ethinicity, and gender, that relate specifically to early adoption of lower-fat food choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A54
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number9 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Sep 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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