Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Food Science and Human Nutrition


The present study was undertaken to investigate social and psychological factors that influence total and saturated dietary fat intake behavior in an elderly population. A social-psychological model, derived from several health behavior models, was proposed for study. The dependent variable in the model was dietary fat behavior, measured by adoption of 12 food behaviors recommended to reduce total and saturated dietary fat intake. The independent variables in the model were: habit, attitude, ability to perform, role beliefs, personal normative beliefs, social norms, arousal, self-concept, and gender;The study population included 75 elderly persons aged 60 and older (51 women, 24 men), living in a midwestern urban area. The participants reported low consumption of the highfat foods in the 12-item index used to measure the dependent variable, dietary fat behavior. Almost all respondents had completed high school degrees (97%), and the average yearly household income of the entire sample ranged from 20,000 to \29,999. The results from this study indicate that the proposed social-psychological model of health behavior is effective in predicting dietary fat behavior in this elderly population. The model with nine predictor variables significantly (p < 0.0001) explained 50% of the variance associated with total and saturated dietary fat intake behavior. The significant predictor variables in the model were habit (p = 0.02), attitude (p = 0.05), ability to perform (p = 0.01), role beliefs (p = 0.004), and gender (p = 0.004). A reduced form of the model, including only the five significant predictor variables (habit, attitude, ability to perform, role beliefs, and gender) explained 49% (p < 0.0001) of the variance, similar to that of the full model. This study provides insight into how to direct nutrition education and promotional campaigns toward members of the elderly population, using the information that habit, attitude, ability to perform, role beliefs, and gender are significant predictors of dietary fat behavior.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Robin Ann Orr



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

99 pages