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Measuring the Effects of Nutritional Counseling on Total Infant Diet in a Randomized Controlled Intervention Trial

Koehler, Susanne*,†; Sichert-Hellert, Wolfgang*,†; Kersting, Mathilde*,†

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: July 2007 - Volume 45 - Issue 1 - p 106–113
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3180331e2a
Original Articles: Hepatology & Nutrition

Objectives: To examine the effects of nutritional counseling for the infant diet focused on complementary feeding and total diet by use of dietary scores.

Patients and Methods: In a randomized controlled intervention trial, 183 mothers of full-term infants were allocated to 4 intervention groups (IG0–IG3). Intervention consisted of dietary counseling based on the food-based guidelines for infant nutrition in Germany. Counseling was done in 3 different forms: a telephone hotline (IG1), then written information (IG2), followed by additional personal telephone counseling (IG3). The IG0 group was not counseled at all. The actual diet of the infants was assessed by telephone interviews when the infants were 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months old and evaluated by food-based and meal-based dietary scores.

Results: Plausible, although often not statistically significant, effects of counseling were found for several single scores at various age points. Total diet during the first year of life was significantly closer to the recommendations in the most intensively counseled group than in the noncounseled and lowest-counseled groups. Telephone counseling proved to be more effective than distribution of written material.

Conclusions: The measured effects of the innovative approach of personal telephone counseling point to the advantages of giving dietary advice to mothers of infants by means of personal contacts and suggest that positive effects on dietary habits may even be greater by face-to-face talks between mothers and experts.

*Research Institute of Child Nutrition (FKE), Dortmund, Germany

Institute at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University, Bonn, Germany

Received 15 August, 2006

Accepted 17 December, 2006

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Mathilde Kersting, Research Institute of Child Nutrition, Heinstück 11, D-44225 Dortmund, Germany (e-mail:

Supported by NOVITAS Vereinigte BKK, Duisburg, Germany.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.