Background: To encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles, governments in many countries publish guidelines for alcohol intake, physical activity (PA), and fruit and vegetable (FV) intake. However, there is a need for better understanding of whether people understand such guidelines, consider them useful, and adhere to them. University students are a group worth of attention because although they are less likely than older adults to exceed UK weekly alcohol intake guidelines or to be inactive, they are also less likely to meet FV consumption targets. Furthermore, because behaviour during youth predicts adult behaviour, it is important to identify influences on healthier behaviour. Methods: An online survey was completed by 559 UK university students. Key outcome variables were knowledge of guidelines, motivation to adhere to them, and adherence to them. Results: 72% adhered to guidelines for alcohol intake, 58% for PA, and 20% for FV intake. Students generally had poor or moderate knowledge of guidelines, perceived them as only moderately useful, and were only moderately motivated to adhere to them. Greater motivation to adhere to guidelines was not significantly related to more accurate knowledge. However, it was related to greater familiarity, and perceiving guidelines as useful and realistic, and greater conscientiousness. Discussion: There is a need to ensure that students understand the UK guidelines for alcohol intake, PA, and FV intake. However, simply increasing knowledge may not lead to greater adherence to the guidelines: there is also a need to focus on improving perceptions of how useful and realistic they are.
de Visser, RichardConroy, Dominic Davies, Emma L.Cooke, Richard
Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development
Year of publication: 2021Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-01-05