Journal of Nutrition Education: Adolescents’ perspectives and food choice behaviors in terms of the environmental impacts of food production practices: Application of a psychosocial model

Journal of Nutrition Education: Adolescents’ perspectives and food choice behaviors in terms of the environmental impacts of food production practices: Application of a psychosocial model – Brief Article

M.M. Bissonnette

Bissonnette, M.M. and Contento, I.R. 2001. Adolescents’ perspectives and food choice behaviors in terms of the environmental impacts of food production practices: Application of a psychosocial model. Journal of Nutrition Education 33:72-82.

The objective of this study was to investigate adolescents’ perspectives about the environmental impacts of food production practices and whether these perspectives are related to their food choice. Food choice was operationalized as consumption and purchase of organic foods and locally grown foods. A survey questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of adolescents and analyzed for descriptive information and relationships among variables. Subjects were 651 ethnically diverse, urban and suburban high school senior students in a major metropolitan area. Variables of an Expanded Theory of Planned Behavior were measured including beliefs, attitudes, perceived social influences, motivation to comply, perceived behavioral control, self-identity, perceived responsibility, behavioral intention, and behavior. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation coefficients, and stepwise multiple regression analyses were used. Surveyed adolescents did not have strong or consistent beliefs or attitudes about the environmental impact of food production practices. Cognitive-motivational processes were at work, however, since their perspectives were significantly correlated with behavioral intentions and food choice behaviors. Behavioral intention was best accounted for by attitudes and perceived social influences (and perceived responsibility for organic food), and behavior was best accounted for by behavioral intentions, beliefs, and perceived social influences (and self-identity for local food). There is a need to make salient to adolescents the environmental impact of food production practices through both cognitive and experiential approaches.

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