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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Factors influencing consumer dietary health preventative behaviours

Dan A Petrovici1* and Christopher Ritson2

Author Affiliations

1 Kent Business School, University of Kent, Parkwood Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7PE, UK

2 School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Agriculture Building, 323 AB, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:222  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-222

Published: 1 September 2006

Abstract

Background

The deterioration of the health status of the Romanian population during the economic transition from a centrally planned to a free market economy has been linked to lifestyles factors (e.g. diet) regarded as a main determinants of the disparity in life expectancy between Eastern and Western Europe. Reforms in the health care system in this transition economy aim to focus on preventive action. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors that impact on the individual decision to engage in Dietary Health Preventive Behaviour (DHPB) and investigate their influence in the context of an adapted health cognition model.

Methods

A population-based study recruited 485 adult respondents using random route sampling and face-to-face administered questionnaires.

Results and discussion

Respondents' health motivation, beliefs that diet can prevent disease, knowledge about nutrition, level of education attainment and age have a positive influence on DHPB. Perceived barriers to healthy eating have a negative impact on alcohol moderation. The information acquisition behaviour (frequency of reading food labels) is negatively predicted by age and positively predicted by health motivation, education, self-reported knowledge about nutrition and household financial status. A significant segment of respondents believe they are not susceptible to the elicited diseases. Health promotion strategies should aim to change the judgments of health risk.

Conclusion

The adaptation of the Health Belief Model and the Theory of Health Preventive Behaviour represents a valid framework of predicting DHPB. The negative sign of perceived threat of disease on DHPB may suggest that, under an income constraint, consumers tend to trade off long-term health benefits for short-term benefits. This cautions against the use of negative messages in public health campaigns. Raising the awareness of diet-disease relationships, knowledge about nutrition (particularly sources and risks associated with dietary fat and cholesterol) may induce people to adopt preventive dietary habits.