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Maintaining appropriate eating habits is one of the key components of good health. It is especially difficult during adolescence, a critical period in life because of the increased autonomy and the intention to take risks. Investigating the theoretical background of adolescents’ eating behaviour is therefore a worthwhile line of research. We applied the widely used health belief model to explore adolescents’ likelihood of healthy eating.

Materials and methods

A sample of adolescents (Szeged, Hungary; N = 400, age = 14–19 years; mean age = 16.01 years, SD = 1.18 years; 37% males) participated in the study. Data were collected through online, self-administered/anonymous questionnaires. Based on bidirectional correlations of the variables, we used a path analysis to examine relationships between elements of a modified health belief model.


Our modified model showed the direct impacts of cues to action, benefits, barriers, and self-efficacy, and the indirect impacts of perceived severity and susceptibility-via-cues-to-action on the likelihood of healthy eating.

Discussion and conclusions

Elements of the health belief model play a decisive role in estimating adolescents’ healthy eating behaviour. We suggest that the model can serve as a useful theoretical background in planning and evaluating prevention programs to reduce obesity and promote healthy eating.

Open access