Evolutionary Explanations of Food Preferences

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Evolutionary explanations of food preferences
The environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA)
AO1 ­ refers to the environment in which our species first evolved, things that were adaptive for our
ancestors such as eating fatty foods to provide them with enough energy to protect and find food to
survive, however human species has evolved and no longer needs the energy to do those things
meaning the preference has become maladaptive due to a genome lag in which evolution has not
caught up with society as we are not using the energy we are consuming so are instead putting on
AO2 ­ Gibson & Wardle (2001) children chose bananas & potatoes (high in calories) more than other
fruit showing an evolved preference for calorie-rich food
AO2 ­ Age bias, wasn't tested on adults, may not have chosen the calorie rich food
AO2 ­ Alternative, common fruit/veg so familiarity of foods rather than calories
AO1 ­ Preference for meat, (kidney liver brains) contained most nutrients
Milton suggested without their preference for meat we wouldn't have evolved into
intelligent human beings due to lack of nutrients for brain development
Taste aversion
AO1 ­ learn to associate food with an illness thus avoiding food in future to promote survival
AO2 ­ Garcia et al (1955) fed saccharin to rats prior to radiation which caused them to be ill, then
associated illness with saccharin and avoided the food supporting taste aversion
AO2 ­ Lab, extraneous variables controlled, establish cause and effect (illness and food choice)
AO2 ­ Animal ethics, consent/withdrawal & pain during study whether it is beneficial (utilitarianism)
AO2 ­ Generalisability of animal study results to humans as bio functions of taste aversion may be
different, Seligman found a biological preparedness which was diff in different species making
Garcia's rat study difficult to gen
AO2 ­ RWA) avoidance of food in cancer sufferers, Bernstein & Webster (1980) found that novel
flavour icecream prior to chemo, developed aversion, associated with illness, however, when given
a familiar food no aversion formed showing adaptive avoidance of unfamiliar which `leads' to illness
AO1 ­ Adaptive aversion was beneficial as ensured survival as if became ill, would not eat again
AO1 ­ Thought process led to `medicine effect' food eaten immediately before recovery was
associated with getting better
AO2 ­ Garcia injected thiamine into thiamine deficient rats after feeding them a distinctive flavour
and found they associated the flavour with the cute rather than the thiamine injection
AO2 ­ Crit, cannot explain low cholesterol diets which are beneficial today as this would not have
been adaptive for our ancestors, saturated fats were important for survival then but are harmful to
health now
AO2 ­ Reductionist as only takes into account evolutionary reasons and doesn't acknowledge
experiences and beliefs may effect our food preference


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