Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 4, P182-190, July 1995

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Information sources of U.S. adults trying to lose weight

  • Alan W. Heaton
    Address for correspondence: Alan W. Heaton, Ph.D. (HFS-727), Food and Drug Administration, 200 C Street, SW, Washington, DC 20204.
    Division of Market Studies, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204
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  • Alan S. Levy
    Division of Market Studies, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204
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      This study attempted to determine whether dieters differ from nondieters in how and where they obtain nutrition and health information and whether choice of weight-loss practices is related to use of different information sources. A national telephone survey of a probability sample of 1649 adults provided detailed information on the weight-loss practices of 1431 dieters and comparable background information on 218 nondieters. Dieters were more active readers of nutrition information than were nondieters. However, their choices about type of regimen and about specific products and services were more heavily dependent on word of mouth, commercial sources, and physicians than on written information. Dieters relying on written materials were more likely to engage in healthy weight-loss regimens and less likely to engage in questionable weight-loss practices than were those relying on other sources. The pattern of information-seeking behavior observed for dieters, which indicated greater motivation to seek out written information but reliance on oral sources to inform them of specific weight-loss practices, suggests that if authoritative written information about specific weight-loss practices was available, it would be used and would likely be effective.
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