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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate children’s school lunchboxes and explore the influence of carer’s perceived benefits and barriers towards healthy eating on the food contents packed for lunch. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on exchange theory, the study explores the relationship between carer’s perceived benefits and barriers towards healthy eating and the lunchbox contents a carer packs for their child. An online survey was completed by 876 parents and carers. Statistical analysis techniques, including one-way ANOVA and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) were used to analyse the data. Findings: The analysis revealed that perceived benefits and barriers towards packing healthy foods had a significant impact on the reported contents packed for lunch. Results indicate the segment with the highest perceived benefits and the lowest perceived barriers towards packing healthy lunches reported packing healthier foods than the remaining three segments. Practical implications: Social marketers should develop interventions to promote the benefits of healthy eating, while overcoming the perceived (and real) barriers that prevent healthy lunches from being packed. Study limitations and future research directions are outlined. Originality/value: Drawing on exchange theory, the current study demonstrated how simultaneous measurement of benefits and barriers that are later divided into high and low groups impacts lunchbox packing behaviours (Nelson et al., 2010). This study contributes to the literature providing further empirical evidence that use of commercial marketing theories in social marketing is warranted and that theoretically derived segmentation approaches are available for social marketing practitioners.


Centre for Health and Social Research

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Journal Article

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