LONDON: According to a new study, people with a positive attitude are more likely to eat healthily. The research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) examined the motivational role of a theory called regulatory focus on consumers’ involvement in nutrition, that is, the time and effort they put in to finding out about nutrition and seeking out nutritious food.
The results of the study were published in the journal ‘Appetite’. It also examined the effect of nutrition involvement on consumers’ knowledge of nutrition and dietary behaviour.
Regulatory focus suggests that there are fundamental motivational differences among people, with two aspects – promotion and prevention – guiding behaviour. Individuals with a promotion focus are concerned with pursuing positive outcomes, for example engaging in healthy behaviours, while those with a prevention focus will seek to prevent negative consequences, for example by avoiding unhealthy behaviours.
The study involved 1125 consumers in Taiwan, where dietary habits have been changing and there have been increases in obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Participants were questioned about their nutrition involvement and knowledge, and diet adjustment.
The findings showed that having a promotion focus leads to consumer’s involvement in nutrition, which in turn leads to nutrition knowledge and diet adjustment following advice, for example from media, doctors, family members or friends. Having a prevention focus had no effect on nutrition involvement.
It also found that the effect of promotion focus on nutritional involvement was greater among high-income consumers. The evidence suggested that the effect of promotion focus was stronger among men than women, but the authors say this is to be expected because previous research has shown that women have higher levels of nutritional involvement, irrespective of having a promotion focus.
Pillai added, “Given the problems of obesity and illnesses directly linked to unhealthy eating habits, the direct effect of nutrition involvement on dietary behaviours demonstrated in this study underscores the importance of investing in efforts to promote nutrition involvement from a public health policy perspective.” (ANI)