Adolescents’ attitudes towards healthy eating: The role of self-control, motives and self-risk perception

Katalin Szabo, Bettina F. Piko, Kevin M. Fitzpatrick

Research output: Article

Abstract

Background: Adolescence is a critical stage in life course development. It is a particularly relevant stage regarding our understanding of eating behaviors since adolescent's evolving, more autonomous food preferences tend to be influenced by peers and media as much if not more than the family. Therefore, exploring adolescent's eating preferences could be an important focus to developing prevention programs. Aims: To explore the role of psychological variables (namely, self-risk perception, self-control and eating motivations) and their relationships with healthy eating attitudes. Methods: A sample of adolescents (Szeged, Hungary, N = 274, ages 14–19 years; mean age = 15.95 years, S.D. = 1.17 years; 54% males) was recruited to participate in the study. Data were collected from self-administered/anonymous questionnaires. Besides descriptive statistics, correlations and a path analysis were applied to examine the relationships between self-control, self-risk perception, eating motivations and healthy eating attitudes. Results: Self-control played a decisive role, both directly and indirectly in healthy eating attitudes, while self-risk-perception had a less important mediating role. Eating motives were directly related to eating attitudes but in a different way: health motives were positively associated with healthy eating attitudes, while social and external motives had a negative relationship. Conclusions: The path analysis suggests that self-control indeed plays an important role in developing healthy attitudes. While health motives play a more decisive role in health-related attitudes than we might expect, self-risk perception plays a limited role perhaps due to the notion that adolescents typically present a feeling of invulnerability. These findings suggest that despite their diminished self-risk perception, adolescents tend to be health conscious in nutrition, particularly when it combines with the underlying impact of self-control and health motives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104416
JournalAppetite
Volume143
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - dec. 1 2019

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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