Evolutionary explanations of food preference essay plan / notes

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Sheet 6 Eating Behaviour 08.04.2014
Discuss evolutionary explanations of
food preference (24marks)
People need food to survive and throughout
history it's been a driving force for evolution.
We are born predisposed to prefer sweet
and salty foods but to reject those foods that
taste bitter and sour.
Neophobia: Young children show fear and
avoidance of novel foods. We are
predisposed to be conservative (cautious)
in our food preferences.
Associative learning can be used to explain This doesn't explain why people drink
evolutionary explanations of food alcohol again and again!
preferences as the unpleasant side effects
of learning (something that does not agree
with us) makes it unlikely that we will eat that
food again. Prefer flavours that have been
previously paired with a preferred sweet
taste and flavours paired with those
nutrients that supply us with energy.
We may prefer foods high in energy However, preference for fatty foods is
because energy would have helped our less adaptive for us now because
ancestors when food was scarce. scarcity of food sources seldom occurs
and energy expenditure has generally
diminished. The result may be
overstorage of fat and obesity.
People of all ages and all cultures seem to Meiselman et al: gave sweet foods to
prefer sweet taste to any other, suggesting Eskimos in Alaska, the foods were
it is an inherited preference. readily accepted suggesting an
underlying human preference for sweet
foods as Eskimos wouldn't normally eat
sweet foods in their everyday life.
However, our taste for salt doesn't evolve
until we're a few months old, suggesting
a predisposition but with a learned
component. Food producers have been
accused of taking advantage of our
ancient desire for salty by adding it in
overlyliberal quantities in processed
Cannot be falsified (proved right or
However, evolution is accepted by the
scientific community as a fact so
evidence must be clear and testable.

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