D.T.D. de Ridder
- The power of habits
- Unhealthy snacking behaviour is primarily predicted by habit strength
- British Journal of Health Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Objective. Although increasing evidence shows the importance of habits in explaining health behaviour, many studies still rely solely on predictors that emphasize the role of conscious intentions. The present study was designed to test the importance of habit strength in explaining unhealthy snacking behaviour in a large representative community sample (N= 1,103). To test our hypothesis that habits are crucial when explaining unhealthy snacking behaviour, their role was compared to the ‘Power of Food’, a related construct that addresses sensitivity to food cues in the environment. Moreover, the relation between Power of Food and unhealthy snacking habits was assessed.
Design and Methods. A prospective design was used to determine the impact of habits in relation to intention, Power of Food and a number of demographic variables. One month after filling out the questionnaire, including measures of habit strength and Power of Food, participants reported their unhealthy snacking behaviour by means of a 7-day snack diary.
Results. Results showed that habit strength was the most important predictor, outperforming all other variables in explaining unhealthy snack intake.
Conclusions. The findings demonstrate that snacking habits provide a unique contribution in explaining unhealthy snacking behaviour, stressing the importance of addressing habit strength in further research and interventions concerning unhealthy snacking behaviour.
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