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Attitudes to Food
Social Learning Children acquire attitudes to food by observing behaviour in parents. The
media influences what people eat and attitudes to food.
· Meyer and Gast Positive correlation between peer influence and eating behaviours
· Evolutionary explanations food preferences more than just social learning
· Problems of generalisability as some studies use clinical groups, others focus of sub-clinical
Cultural differences Eating concerns more likely in white rather than Asian or Black women.
Acculturation effect influences attitudes and behaviour. Body dissatisfaction and eating
disorders more common in higher-class individuals.
· Some studies contradict claim that disordered eating is mainly found in white women
· Others suggest higher social class = greater body satisfaction
· Cultural differences may influence attitude to food
Mood and eating behaviour Binge-eating anxiety tends to precede binge episodes. Garg
People snack when sad or depressed to experience feelings of euphoria.
· Not clear why binge-eating is reinforcing
· Chocolate my prolong rather than alleviate negative mood.
· AID Gender Bias tendency to focus erroneously on women alone…read more
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Success and failure of dieting
Restraint theory Attempting not to eat increases the probability of overeating. Boundary
model dieters have larger range and satiety levels.
· Implication for treatment overeating may occur if restraint recommended
· Behaviour of restricting anorexics not explained using this theory
· Anecdotal evidence less trustworthy compared to scientific studies
· Green dieting may lead to slower information processing
· Wardle & Beales Women in diet condition ate more than those in non-diet
Role of Denial Theory of ironic processes denial of food thoughts backfire. Attempts to
suppress thoughts of food makes them more prominent.
· Soetens group that tried to suppress thoughts of food thought about it more
· Effects small but significant in pathological forms of eating behaviour.
Detail Successful dieting by focusing on specific details of each meal. Jelly beans experiment
focused on flavours rather than just numbers
· Concerns about dieting ineffectiveness led to healthy-eating programmes
· Meta-analysis showed significant improvement in well-being and weight stability
· AID Free will and determinism high levels of LPL (gene that is efficient at storing calories)
= greater weight gain
· Cultural bias Asian students more prone to obesity than Europeans…read more
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Role of Neural mechanisms
Homeostasis Body's tendency to maintain constant internal state. Decline in glucose levels in
blood activates LH (lateral hypothalamus). Rise in glucose levels activates VMH (ventromedial
· For hunger to be adaptive, must anticipate and prevent energy deficits, not just react to
LH and VMH Damage to LH leads to aphagia, stimulation to feeding behaviour. NYP `turns on
eating' if injected into LH. Damage to VMH leads to hyperaphagia and inhibits eating behaviour.
Research suggests damage to PVN (periventricular nucleus causes `cravings') alone causes
· Damage to LH does not only affect feeding
· Eating behaviour controlled by neural circuits throughout the brain
· Influence of NPY may be overstated Marie
· Body produces ghrelin in response to stress; also boosts appetite
Neural control of cognitive factors Amygdala section of foods on basis of previous
experience. Inferior frontal cortex damage decreases eating because of decreased sensory
· Kluver-Bucy syndrome damage to brain areas lead to increased appetite and indiscriminate
· Zald and Pardo Physiological evidence to support role in emotional processing of olfactory
· AID Evolutionary approach primary stimulus for hunger and eating is food's positive-
· AID Real-world application NPY also produced by abdominal fat, which leads to more
eating and more fat.…read more
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Evolutionary explanations of food
The EEA Environment in which human beings first emerged as separate species. Natural
selection favoured adaptations that promoted survival in the EEA
Early diets Fatty foods adaptive for energy resources. Evolved preference for foods rich in
Preference for meat Fossil evidence suggests early diet mainly animal based foods. Unlikely
early humans would have had enough energy from meat-free diets
Taste aversion Animals who became ill after eating developed aversion to that food.
Development of taste aversions helped ancestors to survive. Taste aversions difficult to shift
once learned. Medicine effect animals learn preference for foods that make them healthier.
· Importance of calorie-rich foods demonstrated in studies of young children
· Anthropological evidence dismisses suggestion that ancestors were vegetarian
· Some food preferences have not been a product of evolution
· Taste aversion explained by concept of biological preparedness
· Preference for fatty foods reflected that in success of fast-food restaurants
· Comparative evidence chimps in Gombe National park
· Evolved preferences are modified by cultural factors
· Sandall & Breslin evidence for adaptive value of bitter taste
· AID Real-world application understanding of taste aversions acquired during
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Psychological explanations Cultural bias, Western standards if attractiveness contribute to
AN. Portrayal of thin models on TV contributes to drive for thinness. Comparisons with media
images more likely if self-esteem is low. Ethnicity incidence of AN in non-Western cultures
much lower. Meta-analysis less body dissatisfaction among African-Americans. Peer influences
adolescents susceptible to disordered eating. Teasing is key mechanism of peer influence.
Bruch, children of ineffective parents become overly reliant on them. Adolescents take excessive
control over body shape to gain autonomy. Perfectionism is often found in individuals with AN.
Impulsiveness linked with BN and AN.
· Hoek Similar rates of AN in some non-Western cultures
· Media influences - Becker eating disorders in Fiji increased after introduction of TV
· Ethnicity not all studies find cultural or subcultural differences
· Some studies no influence of peer influence on development of AN
· Bruch supported by clinical observations of parental behaviour
· Support for claim that people with AN rely on opinions of others.
· Perfectionism link supported by Halmi
· Study of personality in AN has methodological problems (e.g. personality trait or state caused
· AID Ethical issues in study of AN on internet Confidentiality, privacy
· AID real-world application French fashion industry charter to promote healthy body
image in young women.…read more