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Soc Sci Med. 2011 Nov;73(10):1517-24. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.08.030. Epub 2011 Sep 17.

Allocation of household responsibilities influences change in dietary behavior.

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  • 1Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


This study was undertaken to understand dietary behavior as situated within the household, an important social context that serves to either inhibit or promote a healthy diet. Data were collected as part of a worksite-based health behavior intervention trial that took place between 1999 and 2003 in small manufacturing businesses in New England, U.S.A. The subjects were a cohort of 790 male and female workers who participated in the intervention trial and responded to both the baseline and the 18-month follow-up surveys. Regression models were built to determine whether proportion of household responsibility predicted daily fruit and vegetable consumption and weekly red meat consumption at 18-months. The results indicate that participants who were responsible for earning most or all of the money to support the household ate more servings of fruits and vegetables per day at 18-month follow-up than those without this responsibility. Further, those responsible for earning about half ate fewer servings of red meat than those responsible for earning most or all of the money to support the household. The results for red meat consumption differed by sex, such that responsibility for more than half or less than half of the money to support the household had different effects for men and women. The results of this study demonstrate that the distribution of household responsibilities can be an important factor in determining the effectiveness of a worksite-based health behavior intervention and that these effects can be different for women versus men.

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