Nutrition components of health risk appraisals (HRAs) aim to rapidly and accurately assess dietary behaviors that increase disease risk. Because cognitive research suggests that recalling food likes/dislikes may be simpler and more accurate than recalling intake, we tested whether a preference measure was predictive of cardiovascular disease risk factors within an HRA.
HRA participants (422 primarily non-Hispanic white men, mean age 46+/-10 years) from a manufacturing company completed surveys to assess fat and sweet food/beverage preference; frequency of consuming fat and sweet foods/beverages, alcoholic beverages, fiber-rich foods (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables); and physical activity. Per measured risk factors, 34% had central obesity (waist circumference>or=102 cm), 32% had hypertension (>or=140 and/or>or=90 mm Hg), 52% had prehypertension (>or=120 to 139 and/or>or=80 to 89 mm Hg), and 52% had an elevated total cholesterol level (>or=200 mg/dL [5.2 mmol/L]).
Multiple linear regression models explaining variability in waist circumference, blood pressure, and serum lipids were tested.
Although preference and intake pairs for fat and sweets were significantly correlated, intake of fat and sweets failed to associate significantly with any risk factor. Significant variance in waist circumference was explained by age, fat preference, fiber intake, and physical activity. Those with greater circumferences liked fat more, consumed less fiber, and exercised less. Waist circumference in turn contributed significantly to models predicting serum lipid levels and blood pressure. Alcohol intake explained variability in serum lipid levels-higher intakes were associated with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. The models predicting risk were generally more explanatory in younger (<50 years) than in older men.
Including a preference measure within an HRA appears to enhance cardiovascular disease risk factor assessment. Fat preference, intake of fiber-rich foods, and alcohol proved the best dietary determinants of cardiovascular disease risk factors.