Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is commonly used to inform nutrition interventions in adolescents, yet relatively few studies have tested the structural paths of the constructs that guide behavior. It is important to test theoretical models, so theory can better inform the design of useful interventions.
To test the structural paths of SCT on self-reported consumption of fruits and vegetables in adolescents.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Cross-sectional survey data was collected from 1,104 high school Family and Consumer Sciences students in Indiana.
Participants completed a 40-item questionnaire with 3 items about intake of fruits and vegetables and 37 items from validated SCT scales that assessed nutrition-related self-efficacy, intentions, behavioral strategies, outcome expectations, outcome expectancies, situation, and social support. Structural equation modeling was used to test relationships between constructs in SCT and eating fruits and vegetables.
There were 707 (64.1%) girls and 397 (35.9%) boys that completed the survey. There were 896 students who self-identified as White (81.2%), 66 as Black (6%), 45 as Asian (4.1%), and 98 as other (8.9%). Fit was good for the model (Comparative Fit Index = 0.90; Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.06). Intentions (β = 0.32; P < 0.001) and behavioral strategies (β = 0.18; P = 0.003) directly affected intake of fruits and vegetables. Self-efficacy (β = 0.37; P < 0.001), social support (β = 0.17; P = 0.001), and outcome expectancies (β = 0.34; P < 0.001) positively influenced intentions, indirectly affecting behavior. Situation did not have a significant effect on intentions (β = 0.04; P = 0.44) or self-efficacy (β = 3.96; P = 0.26).
Behavioral strategies and intentions directly influenced consumption of fruits and vegetables. These findings suggest that interventions aimed at high school students will be more successful if they focus on directly targeting behavioral strategies and focus indirectly on improving intentions by increasing self-efficacy.