Correlates of nutritional behavior in individuals with multiple sclerosis

Plow M, Finlayson M, Cho C.  Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.  Disabil Health J. 2012 Oct;5(4):284-91. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2012.05.007. Epub 2012 Aug 17.
BACKGROUND: Adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) have many health problems that can interfere with healthy nutritional behaviors. Self-management activities (e.g., strategies used to manage emotions and functional limitations) may help facilitate engagement in healthy nutritional behaviors. However, few studies have documented such relationships.

OBJECTIVE: Identify predictors of nutritional behaviors from among a set of variables (i.e., personal characteristics, health status indicators, and self-management activities) linked to the International Classification of Function.

METHODS: Data were obtained from an online survey of 292 individuals with MS. Significant bivariate correlates were entered into a logistic regression analysis using backward and forward selection methods to identify predictors of healthy nutritional behaviors (i.e., endorsing 4 out of 5 questions about frequently making good food choices, limiting fat intake, consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, reading food labels, and eating regularly).

RESULTS: Sex, nutritional self-efficacy, optimism/pessimism, body mass index, physical activity, emotional self-management, and communication with physician were used in the logistic analysis. Nutritional self-efficacy (β = 0.69, p < 0.001) was the strongest predictor of nutritional behaviors, followed by physician communication (β = 0.08, p = 0.029) and physical activity (β = 0.01, p = 0.035). Neither impairments nor activity limitations were significantly associated with nutritional behaviors.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary evidence that self-efficacy and self-management activities are correlates of nutritional behaviors in individuals with MS. Supporting the development of self-management skills and increasing self-efficacy might be methods for improving engagement in healthy nutritional behaviors among adults with MS.