Publication Details

McDermott, M. S., Oliver, M., Svenson, A., Simnadis, T., Beck, E. J., Coltman, T., Iverson, D., Caputi, P. & Sharma, R. (2015). The theory of planned behaviour and discrete food choices: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12 (December), 162-1 - 162-11.


The combination of economic and social costs associated with non-communicable diseases provide a compelling argument for developing strategies that can influence modifiable risk factors, such as discrete food choices. Models of behaviour, such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) provide conceptual order that allows program designers and policy makers to identify the substantive elements that drive behaviour and design effective interventions. The primary aim of the current review was to examine the association between TPB variables and discrete food choice behaviours. A systematic literature search was conducted to identify relevant studies. Calculation of the pooled mean effect size (r + ) was conducted using inverse-variance weighted, random effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity across studies was assessed using the Q- and I 2 -statistics. Meta-regression was used to test the impact of moderator variables: type of food choice behaviour; participants' age and gender. A total of 42 journal articles and four unpublished dissertations met the inclusion criteria. TPB variables were found to have medium to large associations with both intention and behaviour. Attitudes had the strongest association with intention (r +  = 0.54) followed by perceived behavioural control (PBC, r +  = 0.42) and subjective norm (SN, r +  = 0.37). The association between intention and behaviour was r +  = 0.45 and between PBC and behaviour was r +  = 0.27. Moderator analyses revealed the complex nature of dietary behaviour and the factors that underpin individual food choices. Significantly higher PBC-behaviour associations were found for choosing health compromising compared to health promoting foods. Significantly higher intention-behaviour and PBC-behaviour associations were found for choosing health promoting foods compared to avoiding health compromising foods. Participant characteristics were also found to moderate associations within the model. Higher intention-behaviour associations were found for older, compared to younger age groups. The variability in the association of the TPB with different food choice behaviours uncovered by the moderator analyses strongly suggest that researchers should carefully consider the nature of the behaviour being exhibited prior to selecting a theory.

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