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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

The proof is in the eating: subjective peer norms are associated with adolescents' eating behaviour

F Marijn Stok, Emely de Vet, John B F de Wit, Aleksandra Luszczynska, Magdalena Safron, Denise T D de Ridder
Public Health Nutrition 2015, 18 (6): 1044-51
24940622

OBJECTIVE: To investigate associations of self-perceived eating-related peer norms (called 'subjective peer norms') with adolescents' healthy eating intentions and intake of healthy and unhealthy food.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional data were collected in a large international survey.

SETTING: Two types of subjective peer norms were assessed: perceived peer encouragement of healthy eating and perceived peer discouragement of unhealthy eating. Outcome variables were healthy eating intentions, intake of healthy food (fruits and vegetables) and intake of unhealthy food (snacks and soft drinks).

SUBJECTS: Over 2500 European (pre-)adolescents aged between 10 and 17 years participated.

RESULTS: Subjective peer norms were associated with all three outcome variables. While both perceived encouragement of healthy eating and perceived discouragement of unhealthy eating were related to intentions, only peer encouragement of healthy eating was related to intakes of both healthy and unhealthy food.

CONCLUSIONS: Subjective peer norms play a role in adolescent eating behaviour and as such are an important target for health promotion. Addressing norms that encourage healthy eating may be more promising in changing behaviour than norms that discourage unhealthy eating.

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