Predictors of susceptibility to the diet and nutrition media
Robinson, Shelagh Wynne.
Master of Arts
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Much of the information distributed by the diet and nutrition media consists of unsubstantiated claims. Individuals who are particularly susceptible to such sources are at risk for practicing food-related behaviours of questionable benefit and potential harm. The present study examined whether individuals high in dietary restraint, as measured by the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ; Stunkard & Messick, 1985), or with an external locus of control as measured by the Weight Locus of Control Scale ( Saltzer, 1982) might be particularly susceptible to this information. Four scales were used to measure different aspects of susceptibility to the diet and nutrition media. These measures assessed the credibility given to commercial sources and to a wider range of sources of health information (Worsley, 1989), beliefs about the effects of food on behaviour (Wisocki & King, 1992), and surveyed questionable eating behaviours in a measure which was developed for this study. One hundred and forty-seven female university students completed these questionnaires and kept a 3-day record of their food and beverage consumption. The Cognitive Restraint scale of the TFEQ was significantly associated with a range of questionable eating behaviours (e.g. fad diets). However, neither dietary restraint nor locus of control were predictive of perceived credibility of sources of health information, nor of beliefs about the effects of foods on behaviour. These findings do not identify a clear profile of individuals who are particularly susceptible to food-related information. Only the Hunger Susceptibility scale of the TFEQ was related to the major food consumption measures (calories, carbohydrates and fats).