Modifying Students’ Intentions to Eat Sustainably

By Tracy McDonough, Hugues Plourde and Mary Hendrickson-Nelson.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Individuals who value and/or practice sustainable eating habits have higher fruit and vegetable intakes, lower saturated fat intakes and hence lower chronic disease risk. In an effort to promote healthy and sustainable eating to university students, the following interventions were developed to encourage local food consumption, meatless meals and home cooking: an informational webpage, interactive on-campus kiosks and educational cooking workshops. A survey instrument based on the Theory of Planned Behavior was used to evaluate pre- and post-intervention attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral controls and intentions to eat locally produced food, cook meals, and eat meatless meals. Ninety-two university students completed the survey at Survey 1 (78.3% female; 20.7% male). Fifty-four of the initial participants completed the survey at Survey 2. Significant differences in mean scores between Survey 1 and Survey 2 were observed for: attitude and perceived behavioral control for local eating; perceived behavioral control for cooking at home; and subjective norm for meatless meals. Intentions did not change significantly. Multiple linear regressions demonstrate that the theoretical constructs account for 28.3% and 22.2% of variance in intentions to eat locally and cook meals at home, respectively. The model has less strength in predicting students’ intentions to eat meatless meals, accounting for 16.4% of variance. To instigate a change in intentions to eat sustainably, future interventions could include a series of workshops with varied educational components.

Keywords: Sustainable Eating, Nutrition, Education, Theory, Behavior Change

The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.31-49. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 506.146KB).

Tracy McDonough

MSc (A), School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Hugues Plourde

Faculty Lecturer and Clinical Coordinator, Professional Practice (Stage) in Dietetics, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mary Hendrickson-Nelson

Faculty Lecturer / Clinical Coordinator, Professional Practice (Stage) in Dietetics, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada