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Time perspective and eating behaviour of young adults: how important is a healthy future compared to the present?

Toritseju Begho (Rural Economy, Environment and Society, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, UK)
Shuainan Liu (School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 26 June 2024




Promoting healthy dietary habits is a concern for public health due to the association between unhealthy diets and nutrient-related diseases. This paper aims to examine the relationship between individuals’ temporal dietary behaviour and perceptions of the effect of dietary habits on physical health and how these perceptions influence two important aspects of eating behaviour, i.e. daily consumption of healthy food and self-reported extra payment for healthy food options.


Cross-sectional data on 457 young Chinese adults within the age category of 18–30 years were collected through a survey. Two subscales (immediate and future) were obtained from the consideration-of-future-consequences (CFC)-12 scale through a factor analysis. A seemingly unrelated regression was estimated to determine whether CFC impacts behaviour through an awareness of the consequences of one’s dietary habits.


Individuals who are more focused on immediate gratification were more likely to perceive their current dietary habit have a negative effect on their physical health (p < 0.001). In contrast, those who prioritise the future benefits were less likely to perceive negative health effects from their dietary habits (p < 0.001). However, the perception of negative consequences of dietary habit on physical health did not motivate healthier eating daily (p < 0.001) nor allocating more money towards eating healthy (p < 0.001).

Practical implications

Understanding the relationship between time perspective and dietary habits could help identify potential risk factors for poor dietary choices and promote healthier eating habits.


The paper uses insights from behavioural economics to identify the behavioural triggers that lead to a healthier dietary habit.



Author contributions: Toritseju Begho – Conceptualisation, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Visualisation, supervision, Shuainan Liu – Conceptualisation, Data curation, Visualisation, Writing – original draft.

Financial Support: There was no financial support for this paper.

Declarations of interest: None.

Ethical Standards Disclosure: This paper was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki, and all procedures involving research paper participants were approved by the Research Ethics and Integrity procedure of the University of Edinburgh. Participants were informed of the anonymity and confidentiality of their data. Voluntary participation and use of the information obtained for non-commercial purposes only was sought. All participants whose data are analysed in this study gave informed consent prior to participating.


Begho, T. and Liu, S. (2024), "Time perspective and eating behaviour of young adults: how important is a healthy future compared to the present?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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