Intentions to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption: The importance of perceived susceptibility to health risks

Joanne Dono, Kerry Ettridge, Melanie Wakefield, Simone Pettigrew, John Coveney, David Roder, Sarah Durkin, Gary Wittert, Jane Martin, Caroline Miller

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Objective: There are numerous health effects associated with excess sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. Interventions aimed at reducing population-level consumption require understanding of the relevant barriers and facilitators. This study aimed to identify the variables with the strongest relationship with intentions to reduce SSB consumption from a suite of variables derived from the literature. Design: Random digit dialling of landline and mobile phones was used to survey adults using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews. The outcome variable was 'likelihood of reducing SSB consumption in next 6 months' and predictor variables were: demographics, SSB attitudes and behaviour, health risk perceptions and social/environmental exposure. Setting: Australia Participants: A subsample of 1630 regular SSB consumers from a nationally representative sample of 3430 Australian adults (38% female, 51% aged 18-45 years, 56% overweight or obese). Results: Respondents indicated that they were 'not at all' (30.1%), 'somewhat' (43.9%) and 'very' likely (25.3%) to reduce SSB consumption. Multi-variate nominal logistic regressions showed that perceiving future health to be 'very much' at risk was the strongest predictor of intention to reduce SSB consumption (Odds Ratio=8.1 [1.8-37.0], p<0.01). Other significant predictors (p<0.01) included self-perceptions about too much consumption, habitual consumption, difficulty reducing consumption, and likelihood of benefiting from reduced consumption. Conclusions: Health risk perceptions had the strongest relationship with intentions to reduce consumption. Age and consumption perceptions were also predictors in the multivariate models whereas social/environmental exposure variables were not. Interventions may seek to incorporate strategies to de-normalise consumption practices and increase knowledge about perceived susceptibility to health risks.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • health risk perceptions
  • intentions to change
  • population survey
  • sugar-sweetened beverages


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