Effects of Dispositional and Situational Compensatory Health Beliefs on High Calorie Snack Consumption


  • T. Radtke
  • J. Inauen
  • L. Rennie
  • S. Orbell
  • U. Scholz


Background Compensatory health beliefs (CHBs) - beliefs that an unhealthy behaviour can be compensated for by a healthy behaviour - can be distinguished into trait- and state-beliefs. Trait-CHBs are defined as stable individual differences, whereas state-CHBs are activated in tempting situations, for example when faced with a delicious snack. The aim of this study was to test whether diet-specific trait- and/or state-CHBs are predictive for high calorie snack consumption. Method An experiment was created in which 66 women aged 16 to 50 were faced with chips and chocolate cookies as high caloric snack. Trait- and state-CHBs, habitual snacking, goal intention, hunger, thirst and the calories consumed were assessed. Results Regression analyses revealed that diet-specific trait-CHBs which include exercise as the compensatory behaviour were significantly predictive for high calorie snack consumption, over and above control variables, whereas state-CHBs were not. However, neither diet-specific trait- nor state-CHBs which include reduced intake as the compensatory behaviour were associated with high calorie snack consumption. Discussion Results showed that trait-CHBs are relevant for the prediction of high calorie snack consumption. Future studies might want to further refine the measurement of CHBs, especially state-CHBs.