"The frequency of the calls may make this less practical for large patient care, but it does demonstrate that contact and accountability improve outcomes," she said. "Not only is phone contact growing, but using the Internet for contact is another evolving area.
"The outcomes of the study are significant in that people maintained behavior change for four years, a change that increases the odds that the behavior will become a routine," Diekman added. "The study population, though, started out as healthier eaters, with the majority consuming five [servings of fruits and vegetables] a day, so more studies would be needed to determine if a group with poor diet habits could attain such change."
Could people enlist their family for the same support as the phone counseling, with the same effects? Maybe, Rock and Diekman said.
"Support is key to so many behavior changes. And having a partner, working as a group, or developing phone buddies are steps that many people could take to make eating changes. But the trained interviewer probably helped," Diekman said.
To learn more about improving your diet, visit the American Dietetic Association.
SOURCES: Connie Diekman, R.D., director of university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis, and president of the American Dietetic Association, Chicago; Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; October 2007, The Journal of Nutrition
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