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Social Norms and Dietary Behaviors among Young Adults

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Objective: To examine associations between young adults' dietary behaviors and perceived social norms for healthy eating. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 1000 diverse college students. Associations between perceived behaviors of family, friends, and significant other and participants' dietary behaviors were examined using t-tests and linear regression. Results: Young adults consumed more fast food if they perceived that their family, friends, or significant other did so (p < .003). Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was associated with perceived consumption by family and friends (p < .035). Fruit and vegetable consumption and dinner preparation were associated with perceived behavior of friends only (p < .001). Conclusions: Young adults' dietary behaviors appear to reflect their perceptions of normative behavior, particularly among friends.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Minneapolis, MN, USA. 2: Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA 3: University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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