The Effect of Knowledge, Behaviors, and Attitudes Towards Dietary Fatty Acids on Blood Lipid Levels

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Amber Deckard, Class of 2019


Research has shown a strong relationship between dietary fatty acids (FAs) and their impact on blood cholesterol. Few studies have examined knowledge, behaviors and attitudes (KBA) towards dietary FAs impact blood lipid levels. The objective of this project was to determine: 1) KBA of FAs using the modified General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire (GNKQ); and 2) correlations between anthropometric data, GNKQ responses, and blood lipid levels.

This study utilized across-sectional research design in which 104 women ages 18-40 consented and completed the modified GNKQ via Qualtrics®. The GNKQ consisted of 70 questions. Additionally, a subset of nine women also were instructed to fast for 12-15 hours prior to testing at the Obesity Prevention Laboratory at TCU. Height (cm), weight (kg), BMI (kg/m2), waist-to-hip ratio were recorded. Next, a fasting blood sample (5mL) was obtained. The blood samples were sent to AnyLabTestNow® (Fort Worth, Texas) for a lipid panel. Results were then analyzed via IBM SPSS® (Statistics Version 25.0. Armonk, NY). Significance was set at p<0.05.More than 80% of participants were aware of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated FAs, but only 33.3% were able to identify their proper food sources. Of the 34 knowledge-based questions, approximately 1.9% demonstrated poor knowledge (answered 0-11 questions correctly), 54.3% moderate knowledge (12-23 questions correctly), and 43.8% strong knowledge (24-34 questions correctly). For the subset, there was a significant negative correlation between LDL and participants who self-reported consuming less or maintaining current consumption of animal fat (r= -0.725, p=0.027). There were no other significant correlations between KBA and lipid panel results.

 Despite self-reported awareness, participants lack knowledge of dietary FAs. The subset results showed strong correlation between LDL and consumption of animal fat representing the relationship between diet and lipid levels. Overall, more research should is needed with a larger sample.

Comments from Mentors

Amber Deckard is a high-achieving undergraduate researcher whom I am fortunate to have mentored. She is passionate about research and has extraordinary oral communication skills. Amber was able to design, implement, and present a complicated study with ease and poise. Without hesitation, Amber dedicated countless hours of her time on Saturdays and Sundays to test research participants for up to six hours. Due to the parameters of the study, participants generally arrived at 6 AM. Amber secured funding for her research project through the Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) Grant Program. She then presented her research at the College of Science and Engineering Student Research Symposium, as well as at the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual state conference. She has a strong desire to make an impact on the health and well-being of individuals and demonstrates this with her passion for public health. Ms. Deckard is an exceptionally bright student who possesses immense drive. She has exceeded my expectations, and I have no doubt that Amber is going to be incredibly successful.

--Laura Meade

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College of Science and Engineering