The purpose of the study was to apply the theory of planned behavior to predict Danish adolescents’ behavioral intention for healthy eating. A cluster sample survey of 410 students aged 11 to 16 years studying in Grade 6 to Grade 10 was conducted in Denmark. Perceived behavioral control followed by attitudes were the most important factors in predicting behavioral intention. Females and adolescents with a higher Body Mass Index were also found to have a stronger behavioral intention. Healthy eating was perceived to be beneficial and useful, and, to a lesser extent, interesting and desirable. Family, TV programs, and teachers were influential socialization agents. The survey responses may be affected by a social desirability bias. The survey includes a nonprobability sample and results may not be generalized to all adolescents, even in Denmark. The results may inform educators and policy makers in designing health communication interventions, particularly in making socializing agents aware of their role in fostering healthy eating behaviors in adolescents. As perceived behavioral control was the strongest predictor of behavioral intention, interventions and messages communicated to adolescents on healthy eating should aim to empower them with knowledge, ability and determination to eat more healthily. The study uses a predictive, theoretical framework (TPB) to investigate healthy eating, whereas previous efforts among Danish adolescents have primarily used descriptive approaches.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Behaviour change
- Personal health
- Social marketing