Consumers' Potentials to Adopt a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

Consumers' Potentials to Adopt a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

Efthimia Tsakiridou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece), Elisavet Tsiamparli (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece) and Konstadinos Mattas (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/IJFBMBM.2016070101
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Abstract

Unambiguously, nowadays healthy eating patterns have attracted the interest of researchers, society and media. Mainly four key widespread messages “eat less fat”, “eat less sugar”, “eat less salt” and “eat more fibre”, are among those widely perceived as healthy eating behavior. All those messages could support a healthy eating lifestyle, and consequently, avoid several chronic diseases and health problems. This research aimed to examine consumers' attitudes towards healthy eating, their difficulty to adopt a permanent healthy eating style and to assess which items consumers find more or less difficult to follow. The Rasch model was applied to assess the obstacles consumers are facing to adopt and follow healthy eating patterns and to relate them with a range of attitudinal and socio-economic factors faced by individuals. Results highlight significant differences among consumers in adopting healthy eating patterns, depending on the level of several key factors (gender, age and education).
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Background

Over the last years healthy eating is regarded as one of the most important means of health promotion and a factor for the prevention of many common chronic diseases (Chrysochou et al. 2010; Hughes et al., 2004; Lake et al., 2008; Melanson, 2008; Niva, 2007). Healthy eating benefits short-term and long-term health and helps to avoid the negative consequences of obesity (Stevenson et al., 2007). Establishing healthy eating habits and sustaining them is influenced to some extent by consumers’ understanding of the term “healthy eating” and by social factors and characteristics, such as consumers’ attitudes and intentions towards healthy eating. Furthermore, many studies have been conducted to investigate “healthy eating” to determine what factors affect the healthy eating behavior of consumers (Remie et al., 2000; Falk et al., 2001; Chan et al., 2009; Barreiro-Hurlé et al., 2010; Dickson-Spillman et al., 2010; Hearty et al., 2007; Kalavana, 2010; Pieper et al., 2011).

According to Reime et al. and Turconi et al. healthy eating has been shown to be related to gender, socio-economic status and age (2000; 2008). Women are often the group of people who choose more often healthy food than men. Women choose more low fat while men often consume meat and food rich in carbohydrates. Women consume smaller portions of food than men and have considerably more healthy eating habits.

Nevertheless, further elaboration on the relations between healthy eating and socio-economic characteristic of different population is required to establish more generalised conclusions.

Specifically, this research attempted to examine consumers' attitudes towards healthy eating, their difficulty to adopt a permanent healthy eating style, and to assess which items consumers find more or less difficult to follow. Using the Rasch model which explains how well a particular respondent might do on a particular item, was evaluated how consumers find more or less difficult to follow healthy eating and incorporate this in their daily meals (Bond et al., 2007; Rasch, 1960). In the next section, the design of the study and the Rasch model are introduced followed by the results, discussion and conclusions.

Introducing the Rasch model in a healthy eating study and investigating the association of socio-demographic aspects with the difficulty to adopt healthy eating and healthy eating style by consumers in an urban area (Thessaloniki, Northern Greece) constitutes the novelty of this research.

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