Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 107–116 | Cite as

Gender differences in food choice: The contribution of health beliefs and dieting

  • Jane WardleEmail author
  • Anne M. Haase
  • Andrew Steptoe
  • Maream Nillapun
  • Kiriboon Jonwutiwes
  • France Bellisie


Background: Gender differences in health behaviors have been reported in many studies but causal mechanisms have been neglected.Purpose and Methods: This study examines 4 food choice behaviors in a large sample of young adults from 23 countries and tests 2 possible explanatory mechanisms for the gender differences—women’s greater likelihood of dieting and women’s greater beliefs in the importance of healthy diets.Results: Women were more likely than men to report avoiding high-fat foods, eating fruit and fiber, and limiting salt (to a lesser extent) in almost all of the 23 countries. They were also more likely to be dieting and attached greater importance to healthy eating. Dieting status explained around 22% of the gender difference in fat choices, 23% of fiber choices, and 7% of fruit, but none of the gender difference in salt. Health beliefs explained around 40% of the differences in each of the dietary behaviors and together they explained almost 50%. Gender differences in food choices therefore appear to be partly attributable to women’s greater weight control involvement and partly to their stronger belifs in healthy eating.Conclusions: Further research is needed to understand the additional factors that could promote men’s participation in simple healthy eating practices.


Gender Difference Eating Disorder Healthy Eating Behavioral Medicine Food Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Wardle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne M. Haase
    • 1
  • Andrew Steptoe
    • 1
  • Maream Nillapun
    • 2
  • Kiriboon Jonwutiwes
    • 2
  • France Bellisie
    • 3
  1. 1.Cancer Research UK. Health Behavior Unit, Dept. of Epidemiology & Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Silpakorn UniversityThailand
  3. 3.INSERMParisFrance

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