Vitamin D supplementation in young children: associations with Theory of Planned Behaviour variables, descriptive norms, moral norms and habits

Public Health Nutr. 2010 Aug;13(8):1279-85. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010000777. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Objective: In the Netherlands, a supplementation of 10 microg vitamin D is recommended for children (aged 0-4 years), given that vitamin D contributes to the development of healthy bones and deficiency during childhood is a risk factor for osteoporosis at a later age. However, only 60 % of the Dutch children receive sufficient vitamin D supplementation a day. In order to develop interventions to improve supplementation intake, it is necessary to gain insight into the behaviour of parents in giving their children vitamin D supplementation and its association with variables of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, moral and descriptive norms and habits.

Design: A cross-sectional survey to assess present supplementation-related behaviour, knowledge, received information, intention, attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control, moral norm, descriptive norm and habit.

Setting: Data obtained from a representative Internet Panel by means of electronic questionnaires.

Subjects: Parents (n 270) of children aged 0-4 years.

Results: Half of the parents (48.9 %) gave their child sufficient vitamin D supplementation. Giving the supplement at a fixed time, a positive intention and habit were significantly associated with actual behaviour. The higher age of the child, first-born status, a fixed time for taking vitamin supplementation, descriptive norm and moral obligation were significantly associated with intention.

Conclusions: These results indicate that because many parents do not give their children adequate vitamin D supplementation, the promotion of supplementation during the first years of life is a necessity. Effective yet simple strategies should be developed, focused on improving moral obligation, descriptive norms and habit formation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Culture
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Netherlands
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin D