Eating Behaviour Psychology A Unit 3 Notes

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Attitudes to Food and Eating Behaviour
Explanations of Attitudes to Food and Eating Behaviour
Cultural Influences
Research suggests that body dissatisfaction and related eating disorders are more a
characteristic of white women than black or Asian women. ( Powell and Khan 1995)
Ball and Kenardy (2002) studied over 14000 women between the ages of 18 and 23 in
Australia. For all ethnic groups, the longer they spent in Australia, the more they
reported attitudes and eating behaviours similar to Australian women. This is known
as the Acculturation Effect .
Social Class:
Studies have found that body dissatisfaction, dieting and disorders are more common
in higher class individuals. Dornbusch et al (1984) surveyed 7 000 American
adolescents and concluded that higherclass females had a greater desire to be thin
than lower class counter parts.
Goode et al (2008) used data from the 2003 Scottish Health Survey and established
that in general, income was positively associated with healthy eating.
There is conflicting evidence against the studies which claim disorders/dieting is
more common in white women. Mumford et al (1991) found that the incidence of
bulimia was greater among Asian schoolgirls than their white counterparts. Similarly,
StriegelMoore et al (1995) found more evidence of a `drive for thinness' among black
girls than white girls.
Therefore, research and evidence is mixed.
Research suggests that the relationship between social class and eating behaviour
isn't straightforward. Contrastingly to D
ornbusch et al (1984), Story et al (1995) found
that in a sample of American students, higher social class was related to greater
satisfaction with weight and lower rates of weight control behaviours. Other studies
have found no relationship between social class and weight dissatisfaction, the desire
for thinness and eating disorders.
Research on attitudes to food and eating behaviour suffers from a gender bias. Most
studies have only concentrated on women's attitudes to eating behaviour. However,
studies have shown that in men, homosexuality is a risk factor in the development of
disordered eating attitudes and behaviour (S iever 1994). These findings have been
attributed to the male gay subculture, which places emphasis on the lean, muscular
body ideal. This suggests that studies that concentrate only on women offer a very
limited view of attitudes to food and eating behaviour as the homosexuality risk factor
is just one example.
Mood and Eating Behaviour:
Some explanations of eating behaviour (particularly bingeeating) see it is as
temporary escape from negative moods (such as sadness or anxiety). Research has
shown that individuals with bulimia complain of anxiety prior to a binge. Davis et al
(1988) in a selfmonitoring study found that one hour before a binge, bulimics had

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W egner et
al (2002) had students record their eating patterns and mood states over a 2 week
period. Binge days were low mood days compared to the nonbinge days. There was
no difference in mood before and after a binge. This suggests that although low mood
may make binging more likely, it does not alleviate the low mood state.…read more

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E: STORY ET AL 1995 (contrasting D ORNBUSCH ET AL 1984) found in a sample of
US students, higher social class= greater satisfaction with weight, lower rates of
weight control behaviours.
E: Other studies no relationship between social class and weight dissatisfaction,
desire for thinness and eating disorders.
Mood and Eating Behaviour
Temporary escape from negative moods
Bulimic individuals: anxiety before a binge.…read more

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Restraint Theory
Herman and Mack 1975
Research suggests that as many as 89% of the female population in the UK
consciously restrain their food intake at some point in their lives
(Klesges et al 1987).
The Restraint Theory was developed as an attempt to explain both the causes and
consequences associated with the cognitive restriction of food intake. Herman and
Mack suggest that attempting not to eat actually increases the probability of
overeating.…read more

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This disinhibited restrained group (those
who tried to eat less but often over ate) used more thought suppression but also
showed a rebound effect they thought about it more. This shows that restrained
eaters who tend to over eat try to supress food thoughts more often but this results in
thinking about food more.
There are limitations to the restraint theory as an explanation for the failure of dieting.…read more

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The Theory of Ironic Processes of Mental Control
Attempts to suppress thoughts of food increase preoccupation with that food
they are avoiding.
Therefore, when food is denied: it becomes more attractive.
P : Supporting research theory of ironic processing
E : SOETENS ET AL 2006 p's divided, restrained and unrestrained eaters, then the
restrained eaters divided into either high or low disinhibition.…read more

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There are many complex theories to explain our biological drive to eat and become
satiated. There are two neural mechanisms that are part of the dual centre model of
feeding regulation. The role of the lateral hypothalamus and neuropeptide Y (NPY)
and the role of the ventromedial hypothalamus.
The Lateral Hypothalamus:
Investigation into the role of the hypothalamus in eating behaviour began in the 1950s
when researchers discovered that damage to the lateral hypothalamus in rats caused
a condition called aphagia.…read more

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Yang et al (2008) has shown that NPY is also produced by abdominal fat. The
researchers suggest that this leads to a vicious cycle where NPY produced in the
brain leads to more eating and the production of more fat cells which leads to an
increased production of NPY and so on. Yang believes that by targeting overweight
individuals with this problem with drugs that turn of NPY production, they can prevent
obesity.…read more

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They found the same result when they
increased Ghrelin levels by making he mice stressed. These finings suggest that
food, hunger, stress and anxiety are all somehow associated.
There is growing evidence that neural pathways in the hypothalamus are particularly
sensitive to the action of leptin. Mayer and Thompson (1967) f ound that traumas to, or
tumours of the VMH (which is sensitive to leptin) can cause hyperphagia and also
obesity.…read more

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Taste aversion was first discovered by farmers trying to kill rats, they found that they
couldn't kill rats by poisoning food because rats would only sample a small amount of
the new food and if it made them ill, they would rapidly learn to avoid the new food.
For this reason, taste aversion was originally known as `bait shyness'.
There are adaptive advantages of taste aversion.…read more


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