Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of College Students

Article excerpt

This study assessed how knowledge of soy protein and its relationship to heart disease influences the attitudes and practices of college students. Results showed that family members, schools, and newspapers were the primary sources of students' nutritional information. One fourth of the participating students answered at least four nutrition knowledge questions correctly, and 53% were familiar with the term soy protein. Also, 40% knew that eating soy protein could lower their cholesterol, and 75% reported that they would change an eating habit if it benefited their health. Soy nutrition education programs should be implemented and soy foods should be promoted among college students.

Soy protein contributes to the prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD) by slowing atherosclerotic development (Wiseman et al., 2000) and by lowering total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (Sirtori & Lovati, 2001). Despite soy's many health benefits (Hecker, 2001; McCue & Shetty, 2004; Weisburger, 2000) and the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the claim that soy consumption may decrease the risk of CHD, consumption of soy is low in the United States. Soy could be a cost-effective and healthy means of aiding the prevention of CHD (Wenrich & Cason, 2004), and education about its benefits and ongoing research are important.

The purpose of this study was to establish whether there is a need for soy nutrition education among college students. A survey instrument was used to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of students concerning soy protein and its relation to CHD. Although little research has been conducted in this area, incorporation of soy into young people's diets could benefit them at a pivotal point in their lives.


The Diet/Nutrition and Health Knowledge Survey (Rizek & Pao, 1990) was selected as the data collection tool. This survey helps link an individual's knowledge and attitudes to food choices and dietary behaviors. Seventeen questions were developed that spanned topics concerning knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding soy foods and cholesterol and their relationship in prevention of CHD. Seven questions were designed to assess knowledge about soy protein and CHD prevention. For the purposes of this study, general nutrition knowledge was defined according to how many of five basic knowledge questions students answered correctly. Questions on familiarity with isoflavones and genistein were included to assess awareness of these soy components, which are under ongoing scientific inquiry. Six questions were designed to assess attitudes concerning soy protein use and prevention of CHD. Students' practices concerning soy protein use, acquisition of nutritional information, and prevention of hyperlipidemia were assessed via four questions. The project was approved by the study university's institutional review board.

The research questionnaire was tested for content by conferring with faculty members experienced in surveying knowledge and behaviors. The instrument was discussed with these faculty members and changes were made according to their recommendations. The survey was pilot tested with 20 students to ensure clarity of the items and to determine whether these students believed the survey served its purpose as explained to them. Administration of the survey to the same group of 10 students at two different points within the span of a week enabled assessment of test-retest reliability. The resulting correlation coefficient was .93, indicating high reliability.

Two hundred thirteen surveys were distributed to student volunteers. A heterogeneous sample of undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 25 years was selected by asking every fourth student who passed a designated campus spot to complete the survey. If the student declined, the next student was asked. Students were recruited in the most frequented areas of the university: the library, student center, bookstore, and eating centers. …

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