Are diet-specific compensatory health beliefs predictive of dieting intentions and behaviour?

Theda Radtke*, Daphne Kaklamanou, Urte Scholz, Rainer Hornung, Christopher J. Armitage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Compensatory Health Beliefs (CHBs) - beliefs that an unhealthy behaviour can be compensated for by healthy behaviour - are hypothesised to be activated automatically to help people resolve conflicts between their desires (e.g. eat chocolate) and their long-term goals (e.g. dieting). The aim of the present research was to investigate diet-specific CHBs within the context of a theoretical framework, the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA), to examine the extent to which diet-specific CHBs contribute to dieting intentions and dietary intake. Seventy-five dieting women were recruited in Switzerland and England and were asked to complete measures of diet-specific CHBs, risk perception, outcome expectancies, self-efficacy, intention, and behaviour. Path modelling showed that, overall, diet-specific CHBs were not related to dieting intentions (β= .10) or behaviour (β= .06) over and above variables specified in the HAPA. However, risk perception moderated the relationship between diet-specific CHBs and intention (β= .26). Diet-specific CHBs positively predicted intention in women with high risk perception, but not in women with low risk perception. This positive relationship might be explained by the assumption that CHBs play different roles at different stages of the health-behaviour change process. Future studies should further examine moderators and stage-specific differences of the associations between CHBs, intention and health-behaviour change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
Early online date25 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Compensatory Health Beliefs
  • Dieting
  • England
  • Health Action Process Approach
  • Intention
  • Switzerland


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