Compliance with National Cholesterol Education Program dietary and lifestyle guidelines among older women with self-reported hypercholesterolemia

The Women’s Health Initiative



      Dietary therapy remains the first line of treatment for patients with high blood cholesterol levels. Among free-living persons, compliance with National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) dietary recommendations is uncertain.

      Subjects and methods

      We performed a cross-sectional, baseline analysis of 91,627 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Among women with self-reported hypercholesterolemia, we ascertained factors associated with compliance with National Cholesterol Education Program dietary recommendations, defined for the Step II diet as ≤30% of total calories from fat, <7% of calories from saturated fat, and daily dietary cholesterol <200 mg.


      Of the 13,777 participants who reported having high cholesterol levels requiring drug therapy, only 20% reported total fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol consumption consistent with Step II dietary goals. Factors associated with Step II dietary compliance included having a college degree (odds ratio [OR] = 1.26; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.14 to 1.40), a prior cardiovascular event (OR = 1.48; 95% CI: 1.28 to 1.70), and consumption of five or more daily servings of fruits or vegetables (OR = 3.0; 95% CI: 2.7 to 3.3). Being married, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and a higher body mass index were all associated with reduced compliance (all P <0.0001). In the subsample in which plasma lipid levels were measured, dietary compliance was associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P = 0.02).


      Since the inception of the NCEP in 1985, health care providers, public health programs, and patients have not successfully implemented the dietary recommendations.


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