Predicting healthy eating intention and adherence to dietary recommendations during pregnancy in Australia using the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Lenka Malek, Wendy J. Umberger, Maria Makrides, Zhou ShaoJia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to aid in the development of more effective healthy eating intervention strategies for pregnant women by understanding the relationship between healthy eating intention and actual eating behaviour. Specifically, the study explored whether Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) constructs [attitude, subjective-norm, perceived-behavioural-control (PBC)] and additional psychosocial variables (perceived stress, health value and self-identity as a healthy eater) are useful in explaining variance in women's 1) intentions to consume a healthy diet during pregnancy and 2) food consumption behaviour (e.g. adherence to food group recommendations) during pregnancy. A cross-sectional sample of 455 Australian pregnant women completed a TPB questionnaire as part of a larger comprehensive web-based nutrition questionnaire. Women's perceived stress, health value and self-identity as a healthy eater were also measured. Dietary intake was assessed using six-items based on the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. Hierarchical multiple linear regression models were estimated (significance level <0.05), which explained 70% of the variance in healthy eating intention scores and 12% of the variance in adherence to food group recommendations. TPB constructs explained 66% of the total variance in healthy eating intention. Significant predictors of stronger healthy eating intention were greater PBC and subjective norm, followed by positive attitude and stronger self-identity as a healthy eater. Conversely, TPB constructs collectively explained only 3.4% of total variance in adherence to food group recommendations. These findings reveal that the TPB framework explains considerable variance in healthy eating intention during pregnancy, but explains little variance in actual food consumption behaviour. Further research is required to understand this weak relationship between healthy eating intention and behaviour during pregnancy. Alternative behavioural frameworks, particularly those that account for the automatic nature of most dietary choices, should also be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Adherence food group recommendations
  • Australia
  • Healthy eating intention
  • Nutrition
  • Pregnancy
  • Theory of Planned Behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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