To address the problem of malnutrition in poor rural areas of China, this study aims to examine the effects of social-psychological factors in food consumption of rural residents in poor counties of Southwest China. In addition, it investigates the role of perceived need and habit within the theory of planned behavior (TPB) in predicting food consumption. A survey with random sampling was conducted on rural residents (n = 424), and the theoretical frameworks of both the standard and extended TPB were applied for comparison purposes. Structural equation modeling was applied to test the relationships among constructs. Consumption of five food items was studied, respectively: meat, eggs, dairy, fish, and fruits. Results showed that incorporation of perceived need and habit substantially increased the explanatory power of the TPB, but these factors only had significant direct effects on intention rather than behavior. Perceived need and habit are stronger predictors of intention than any other TPB construct for consumption of all food items except for meat. We found indirect effects of the constructs in the extended TPB model on consumption to be different across food items. Practical implications to improve consumption of different food items were proposed accordingly.
- Food consumption
- Perceived need
- Rural residents
- Theory of planned behavior (TPB)