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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002 Jul-Aug;34(4):184-92.

Psychosocial predictors of healthful dietary behavior in adolescents.

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Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, California 92350, USA.



To identify predictors of healthful dietary practices in adolescents using the Theory of Planned Behavior and determine how gender and ethnicity influence the relationship among the theoretical constructs.


Initial and 1-month follow-up questionnaires, designed to measure the constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior and select demographic items, were administered to the participants in the spring of 1997 to gather data for this descriptive research.


A sample of 780 adolescents, aged 14 to 19 years, was recruited from randomly selected science classes at 4 public high schools in San Bernardino, California. Seven hundred and fifty participants (96%) completed the initial questionnaire and 672 (86%) completed the follow-up questionnaire.


A 5-step hierarchical multiple regression procedure, general linear model analysis, and Tukey's honestly significant difference post hoc test were used to analyze the data.


Intention to eat a healthful diet was a predictor of healthful dietary behavior. Intention was influenced most by attitude and then by perceived behavioral control and subjective norm. Those with positive attitudes toward healthful eating believed that they would like the taste of healthful foods, feel good about themselves, tolerate giving up foods that they like to eat, and lose weight or maintain a healthful weight. Mother, siblings, and friends were identified as important predictors of subjective norm. Knowledge about how to eat a healthful diet, availability of healthful foods, motivation, and access to enough money were salient facilitating factors related to perceived behavioral control. Interesting contrasts among gender and ethnic groups also were noted.


The findings indicate that multiple attitudinal, normative, and control factors influence healthful dietary behavior in adolescents. The synergistic use of these factors in the development and implementation of nutrition education interventions may assist in the promotion of healthful eating among teens from culturally diverse communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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