Willingness to use functional breads: Applying the Health Belief Model across four European countries

Marco Vassallo (Corresponding Author), Anna Saba, Anne Arvola, Moira Dean, Federico Messina, Markus Winkelmann, Erika Claupein, Liisa Lähteenmäki, Richard Shepherd

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    121 Citations (Scopus)


    The present study focused on the role of the Health Belief Model (HBM) in predicting willingness to use functional breads, across four European countries: UK (N = 552), Italy (N = 504), Germany (N = 525) and Finland (N = 513). The behavioural evaluation components of the HBM (the perceived benefits and barriers conceptualized respectively as perceived healthiness and pleasantness) and the health motivation component were good predictors of willingness to use functional breads whereas threat perception components (perceived susceptibility and perceived anticipated severity) failed as predictors. This result was common in all four countries and across products. The role of ‘cue to action’ was marginal. On the whole the HBM fit was similar across the countries and products in terms of significant predictors (the perceived benefits, barriers and health motivation) with the exception of self-efficacy which was significant only in Finland. Young consumers seemed more interested in the functional bread with a health claim promoting health rather than in reducing risk of disease, whereas the opposite was true for older people. However, functional staple foods, such as bread in this European study, are still perceived as common foods rather than as a means of avoiding diseases. Consumers seek these foods for their healthiness (the perceived benefits) as they expect them to be healthier than regular foods and for the pleasantness (the perceived barriers) as they do not expect any change in the sensory characteristics due to the addition of the functional ingredients. The importance of health motivation in willingness to use products with health claims implies that there is an opening for developing better models for explaining health-promoting food choices that take into account both food and health-related factors without making a reference to disease-related outcome.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)452-460
    Number of pages9
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Health belief model
    • Analysis of covariance
    • Functional breads
    • Functional foods


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