Healthy eating norms and food consumption

WC Wang, A Worsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background/objectives: Beliefs about what people think they ought to eat to be healthy ('healthy eating norms (HENs)') may be important influences on food consumption. The purpose of this study was to examine the predictive roles of normative expectations and demographics, personal values, substance use behaviours and body weight on reported food consumption among middle-aged Australians.Subjects/methods: A questionnaire was administered by mail to a random sample of people aged 40 years and above, drawn from the Electoral Rolls in Victoria, Australia. Part of the questionnaire contained questions about the respondents' beliefs about what should they eat to be healthy, what actually they ate, their personal values, smoking and alcohol use, as well as self-reported heights and weights and demographic characteristics.Results: Respondents' reported food consumption did not match their HENs. Demographics, smoking, body mass index (BMI) and personal values, and HENs were associated with reported consumption but the relationships differed among men and women. Generally, high energy-dense, nutrition-poor (EDNP) food consumption was negatively associated with age. Fruit and vegetable HEN and consumption was positively linked to universalist values but negatively related to smoking status among men. In contrast in women, fruit and vegetable HENs were positively related to income and education while EDNP HEN was negatively associated with age and income but positively linked to body weight and power values. Conclusions: Reported food consumption was associated with HEN, personal values, demographics, smoking and BMI through different pathways among men and women. The implications for nutrition promotion are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-601
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol and smoking
  • body mass index
  • food consumption
  • healthy eating norms
  • middle-aged Australians
  • personal values

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