• The psychological determinants of healthy eating and physical activity among adolescents in Dubai

      Vyas, Lena M. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-08)
      This research examined the psychosocial factors influencing physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake behaviour, intentions and health cognitions in secondary school children in the United Arab Emirates. Study 1 examined the prediction of Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) and Prototype/Willingness Model (Gibbons and Gerrard, 1995) on behaviour, intentions and cognitions in 536 secondary school students. Findings indicated that attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control and prototype perceptions accounted for a significant proportion of behavioural intentions, after controlling for parental behaviour. Prototype variables, especially similarity, improved the predicting validity of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Some differences between age and gender were noted. Prototype similarity appeared to be the strongest predictor of behavioural intentions out of the prototype measures. Study 2 tested the effectiveness of an action planning intervention (Gollwitzer, 1993) and image intervention (Gibbons and Gerrard,1995) in 188 secondary school students. A longitudinal design was employed collecting data over 6 months measuring behaviour, behavioural interventions and components from the Theory of Planned Behaviour and Prototype/Willingness Model. Participants in the action‐planning group were asked to form specific implementation intentions of physical activity and fruitand vegetable intake. Participants in the image group were asked to consider favourable behaviour specific prototype and describe them. Findings revealed no significant intervention effects on intentions or behaviour. Some significant effects were seen on health cognitions across time points and conditions. Study 3 explored knowledge, outcome expectations, facilitators and social modelling, drawing from Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986) by conducting 8 semistructured focus group interviews (N=40). Emerging themes were: ‘Knowledge of physical activity’, ‘Impact on health, wellbeing and physical appearance’, ‘Having fun together’, ‘Important role models’ ‘Knowledge of healthy eating’, ‘Physical and psychological rewards’, ‘Availability and appearance’ and ‘Sometimes yummy and sometimes yucky’. Findings highlighted enjoyment and social factors as strong influences of physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. The overall findings provided some evidence for future implications and further quantitative and qualitative approaches were recommended to further establish the influential factors of children’s healthy eating and physical activity habits in the Middle East.