The Theory of Planned Behavior and College Students' Attitudes and Barriers to Cooking
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There is a strong connection between poor diet and negative health. Fast-food consumption increases in young adulthood, while consumption of healthier foods like fruit and vegetables is low. Cooking is linked to greater likelihood of meeting daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake and lower fast-food consumption. The purposes of the current study were to identify and describe eating and cooking behaviors in a young adult population, and to identify predictors of cooking behavior intentions guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 1991). Participants (N = 277) were undergraduate students who took an online survey to assess past cooking behavior, perceived barriers to cooking, and TPB constructs (perceived norms, perceptions of control, attitudes, and intentions). Fruit and vegetable intake was low, with only 23% meeting daily vegetable intake and 18% meeting fruit intake recommendations. Additionally, only 22% reported cooking at least once per day during a typical week. Hierarchical regression showed that consistent with the TPB, norms, and perceived behavioral control uniquely predicted intentions to engage in home cooking, and together, significantly accounted for 29.8% of the variance in cooking behavior intentions (p <.001). Including past cooking behavior in the model accounted for an additional 37.2% of the variance in cooking intentions (p <.001). These outcomes suggest that frequency of meeting dietary guidelines and home food preparation are low in this sample and that programs designed to encourage young adults to eat meals prepared at home should focus on enhancing normative perceptions and perceptions of control over preparation of meals at home.