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Framing of nutrition education messages in persuading consumers of the advantages of a healthy diet

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Background

Educational dietary messages can stress either the positive consequences of performing a recommended dietary behaviour (positive frame) or the negative consequences of not performing a recommended dietary behaviour (negative frame). From studies on other health behaviours, there is evidence that positive frames have a stronger impact in encouraging preventive behaviours than negative frames. The main hypothesis of the present study was therefore that positively framed messages on eating a low-fat diet and eating enough fruit and vegetables (F & V) are more persuasive than negatively framed messages. Methods

In a 2 (Frame: positive vs. negative) × 2 (Dietary behaviour: fat vs. F & V) design, 152 adult respondents randomly received one of four messages. Subsequently, they completed a questionnaire measuring cognitive attitude, affective attitude and intention to change the dietary behaviours. Results

No significant differences in attitudes and intentions were found between the positive frame conditions and the negative frame conditions. Conclusions

Based on the current study no advice can be given yet to dietitians and other nutrition educators about whether they should emphasize the positive consequences of a dietary change or the negative consequences of not making the dietary change.
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Keywords: action framing; nutrition education; persuasive dietary messages

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health Education and Promotion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands, 2: Department of Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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