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Expanding the theory of planned behavior to predict healthy eating behaviors: Exploring a healthy eater identity

Amanda M Brouwer (Department of Psychology, Winona State University, Winona , Minnesota, USA)
Katie E. Mosack (Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




This paper aims to test whether overall and specific healthy eating behaviors and intentions could be better predicted by expanding the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to include a healthy eater identity. Major health organizations suggest increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to address the growing number of overweight and obese individuals, yet researchers have questioned the degree to which existing behavioral intervention programs sufficiently explain healthy eating behaviors.


Adult women (N = 79) completed questionnaires related to TPB components and healthy eater identity. Participants then recorded food consumption for four days using food diaries and food frequency questionnaires.


Using hierarchical multiple regressions, the authors demonstrated that identity as a healthy eater was a significant predictor of healthy eating intentions beyond the TPB components and a significant predictor of fruit and low-fat dairy consumption and overall healthy eating behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the limitation of correlational data from a homogenous population, results support previous research and add to existing literature by demonstrating the unique contribution identity has in predicting specific healthy diet behaviors of fruit and low-fat dairy consumption.


Findings advance our understanding of how young women think about nutrition and underscore which healthy eating behaviors might need to be directly targeted in interventions if such behaviors fall outside of the scope of common conceptions of what it means to be a “healthy eater”.



The authors would like to acknowledge Angie Wendorf, Cami Thomas and Marion Dahn for their invaluable feedback and support on the writing of this manuscript. They also thank the participants for making this research possible.


Brouwer, A.M. and Mosack, K.E. (2015), "Expanding the theory of planned behavior to predict healthy eating behaviors: Exploring a healthy eater identity", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 39-53.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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