Gender differences in the influence of food safety and health concerns on dietary and physical activity habits

Anthony Worsley, Wei C. Wang, Wendy Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the study was to examine middle aged Australians' dietary and physical activity habits and to investigate their relationships with their food safety concerns, body weight, demographics, and personal values (guiding principles in people's lives). A mail survey was conducted among a random sample of men and women aged between 38 and 79. years; 1095 usable questionnaires were obtained. Multi-group structural equation modelling was used to examine the relationships between the variables among men and women. Findings suggest that food safety concerns played central roles in the relationships between demographics, body weight, personal values and dietary and physical activity habits for both men and women. However, there were significant differences between the genders in the ways the food safety concerns impacted these relationships. For example, body weight was negatively related to women's physical activity behaviours but not men's; the concerns were associated with dining out habits among women but not men; age influenced women's concerns and physical activity but not those of men. Therefore, men and women's dietary and physical activity habits were impacted directly by personal background characteristics, body weight, and personal values, and indirectly through food safety concerns. The implications of the study are that for food policy makers, a gendered focus on food safety concerns, and other relatively malleable variables such as personal values, may be more likely to change dietary and physical activity habits in the short term than a focus on more stable socio-demographic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalFood Policy
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Dietary and physical activity habits
  • Food safety concerns
  • Personal values
  • Survey

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