Factors Influencing Attitudes to Food & Eating

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  • Created on: 16-06-11 19:38
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Factors Influencing Attitudes to Food and Eating
Parental Attitudes/Control
o Mother is strong role model.
o Social Learning Theory (SLT)
o Children learn about food by watching others eat.
o Children observe parents eating and being rewarded by enjoying the food, the children imitate
these food preferences as they expect to receive similar rewards.
o Duncker
Children observed role models making food choices models were older children,
friend, mother, and unknown adult and a fictional hero.
All role models had an impact (especially the mother) apart from unknown adult.
Children are more likely to sample unfamiliar food if they have seen a significant role
model eat the food.
o Dowey
Duncker's research measured children's choices of food, not actual intake. This may
have produced misleading results.
The relationship between preferences and food intake is often assumed but may be
Just because the child chose the food during the experiment doesn't mean that they
will go on eating that food in the future.
Affects the internal validity as it may not measure what it intends to measure.
o Fisher & Birch
Girls were given a standard lunch and then allowed to snack freely on calorific foods.
E.g. ice cream and chocolate.
Found a link between how much parents restricted these foods at home and how
much they ate of them during the study.
Parental restrictions of `forbidden foods' may promote a desire for the foods they are
trying to discourage.
Suggests parents trying to discourage certain foods could lead to increased intake
rather than reduced intake that SLT would predict.
o Ignores key aspects of the evolutionary approach
Food preferences are more strongly influenced by genetic factors passed down
through generations.
Desor et al: 3 day old infants demonstrate a preference for sweet tasting foods.
o Ignores evidence that influences from outside of the family may also shape food
Makino et al: Found females suffering from anorexia was higher in Western countries
than nonWestern.
The west has more media and celebrities which may cause more pressure to be thin.
If it was just parents and SLT, there should be no difference.
o Practical applications
SLT has been used to increase healthy eating in children through the use of TV
campaigns showing role models enjoying nutritious foods.
Suggests SLT can be useful in shaping a healthy diet.

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Mood and Food
o Food can be comforting when we are feeling down and we associate foods with pleasurable
o Research has shown people who are stressed or of low mood `comfort eat' by increasing
carbohydrate and sugar intake.
o Link between happy moods and more nutritious foods.
o Wansink et al
38 p's were offered either hot buttered popcorn or grapes as they watched an upbeat
comedy or a sad film.
P's watching the sad film ate 36% more popcorn.…read more

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o Research has show stress can have to opposite effects on eating.
o Lab studies found p's eat less when stressed (Willenbring et al). This was demonstrated with
marines during combat situations (Popper et al) and students.
o Naturalistic study of stress at work found periods of high workload were associated with
greater intakes of energy (Wardle et al).
o Stress Eating Paradox
o Greeno & Wing: The individual differences model predicts stress only causes changes in
eating with vulnerable people e.g.…read more


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