Is acting on intentions to change diet socially patterned?

Bringing together data from previous studies, we found no evidence that those from more deprived groups are less likely to act on their intentions to change their behaviour, including changing their diet.

However, we found some differences between more and less deprived groups in terms of the influence of perceived control over behaviour (self-efficacy) on actual behaviour:

  • for those from less deprived groups, higher perceived control over their behaviour was associated with healthier behaviour;
  • for those from more deprived groups, perceived control over behaviour had no relation to health behaviour.


This suggests interventions that do not require active engagement from people may be more effective at reducing health inequalities, as responses to these may be less likely to depend on attributes like perceived control over behaviour.

Is the intention–behaviour gap greater amongst the more deprived? A meta-analysis of five studies on physical activity, diet, and medication adherence in smoking cessation. Vasiljevic, Ng, Griffin, Sutton & Marteau. 2016.

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