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Wives' low-fat diets help husbands, too.

Jack Sprat may have eaten no fat, while his wife would eat no lean, but a new study suggests that most husbands' fat intake mirrors that of their wives.

Investigators led by Ann L. Shattuck, a dietitian at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, found that men whose wives adopt low-fat diets eat significantly less fat than those whose wives consume large amounts of fat. This suggests that public health efforts to reduce women's fat intake will also benefit their mates.

Shattuck and her colleagues surveyed the eating habits of the husbands of 368 women who had participated in a study to determine whether lowering dietary fat could reduce the incidence of breast cancer among women at moderate risk of the disease. Roughly half of the women had received intensive counseling to reduce their fat intake; the others had been instructed to continue their usual eating habits.

The researchers found that the husbands of women on low-fat diets derived 4 percent fewer of their total calories from fat than did the husbands of women who did not modify their eating habits. On average, men with mates on low-fat diets consumed only 33 percent of their total calories as fat, while those whose wives were not on modified diets derived 37 percent of their total calories from fat, Shattuck's group reports in the September AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

The two groups of husbands had similar levels of knowledge concerning healthful eating, Shattucks team found, ruling out the possibility that those who reduced their fat intake learned from their wives' examples and consciously altered their own behavior. Instead, the researchers conclude, the husbands' reduced fat intake "was more likely due to their acceptance of lower-fat foods being served at home than to [their own] overt actions."
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Title Annotation:research
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 12, 1992
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