Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Science

Committee Chair(s)

Nedra Christensen


Nedra Christensen


Heidi Wengreen


Barbara Fiechtel


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States. The prevalence of CVD will increase in conjunction with the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes and decrease in physical activity, due to the adverse effects of adiposity and atherosclerosis associated with these syndromes. Excellent inpatient, outpatient, and community-based program s are available to educate and direct healthy behavioral changes, yet the number of programs available is not sufficient for the volume of patients, nor widely distributed in all areas (particularly rural areas). There is a lack of comprehensive education programs for adults directed toward decreasing CVD with an emphasis on food portioning skills; cooking skills; low-fat cooking techniques; increasing fruits , vegetables, and dairy products in the diet; and increasing exercise.

The Cooperative Extension Healthy Beat education program and curriculum was developed and evaluated to improve the cardiovascular health of Utah residents. This curriculum focused on improving nutrition knowledge, food portioning skill, food preparation/cooking skills, regular exercise, lipid panel, anthropometric indices, and blood pressure. The program was distributed in CD format to 59 extension agents; identical CDs were used by instructors of live sessions for 43 participants in Sanpete, Washington, and Beaver counties. The CDs were also used by the instructor of a third group, consisting of 16 nutrition education assistants from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, who were also taught in a live session setting. The evaluation was done through measurement of nutrition knowledge, cooking skills, lipid panel biochemical indices, weight loss, blood pressure, and waist and hip circumferences.

This study demonstrated that on completion of the heart healthy curriculum, those with CVD or those at risk for CVD appropriately altered their risk factors for a myocardial infarction (decrease in one or more of the following: serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, body mass index, and waist and hip circumferences).