Background: Dietary behavior applying theory-based approaches is seldom documented in the general adult population. Thus, the objective of this study was to determine the eating behavior of Malaysian adults and the demographic factors that were associated with positive eating habits.
Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, the convenience sampling technique was used to sample Malaysian adults aged 18 or older. The questionnaire was based on constructs from Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), which has six scales or constructs, including self-efficacy, intentions, situation, social support, behavioral strategies, and outcome expectations and expectancies. All the six constructs demonstrated adequate model fit using confirmatory analysis fit by the developers and good internal reliability using Cronbach’s alpha in this study. The data were descriptively analyzed, and subsequently, logistic regressions were performed, assessing demographic factors associated with healthy eating habits. The variables achieving a P value<0.05 were considered statistically significant.
Results: A total of 461 respondents completed the questionnaire. Good social support (83.30%), outcome expectations (90.24%) and expectancies (92.41%), and the situation in relation to healthy eating (88.94%) were frequently observed among the respondents. The sentence has been revised to express the idea more clearly. “However, the observations in these dimensions were not necessarily translated into good self-efficacy (33.41%), intentions (39.91%), and behavioral strategies relating to healthy eating (53.15%). Additionally, demographic variables such as ethnicity, age, and region were significantly associated with the positive attitude observed on the questionnaire constructs.
Conclusion: In summary, the findings of the study revealed that many Malaysians have poor self-efficacy, intentions, and behavioral strategies when it came to eating healthy. The demographic factors significantly associated with dietary behaviors should be targeted in future interventional studies and awareness programs.