Presentation Title: Healthy-Eating Campaigns, Self-Efficacy, and Functional Food Consumption

Abstract: Concerns over unhealthy eating has led to the development of many healthy-eating campaigns but these are not achieving the intended results. This paper reveals that while health campaigns are capable of triggering behavior change, the wrong type of campaign message combined with low consumer self-efficacy results in consumers adopting behaviors that contravene campaign goals. Using a mixed-method approach the authors demonstrate that campaign messages with different levels of specificity result in different dietary responses, i.e. the more precise the proposed behavior the more likely it is to be met with consumer compliance. Vague compliant behaviors instead result in consumers implementing their own version of healthy eating, usually involving substitutive behavior. These behaviors are affected by nutrition self-efficacy and engagement in substitutive behavior is significantly more prevalent among consumers with low nutrition self-efficacy. The authors further demonstrate that functional foods play a prominent role in substitutive behavior with consumers using them to replace both healthy and unhealthy foods. Substitutive behavior can sometimes be beneficial but in situations where functional foods substitute healthier foods (e.g. fruit) or the functional foods consumed are as unhealthy as the alternatives, such dietary behavior can contravene the impact of healthy eating campaigns.


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