Eating Behaviors of Older African Americans: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior

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Nutrition and Food Systems


Purpose: The study applies the theory of planned behavior to explain the fruit and vegetable eating behaviors, a broad construct consisting of preparing, self-monitoring, and consuming fruits and vegetables, of older African Americans. Design and Methods: Structural equation modeling was used to examine the applicability of the theory of planned behavior with data from 211 older African American women and men (73% women, 26% men; median age range of 5763 years) participating in a larger intervention study. Results: Attitudes about eating fruit and vegetables, subjective social norms, and perceived behavioral control were related to older African Americans intentions to consume fruits and vegetables. Social norms and behavioral intentions were associated with fruit and vegetable eating behaviors. Perceived control did not moderate the influence of behavioral intentions on actual behavior. Implications: Results indicated that the theory of planned behavior can be used to explain variation in older African Americans eating behavior. This study also emphasizes the value of considering broader behavioral domains when employing the theory of planned behavior rather than focusing on specific behaviors. Furthermore, social service programs aimed at reducing the incidence of diseases commonly associated with poor eating behaviors among older African Americans must consider promoting not only fruit and vegetable consumption but also related behaviors including preparing and self-monitoring by eliminating structural, cognitive, and normative constraints.

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