Eating Behaviour

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  • Created on: 08-01-13 16:17

Factors influencing attitudes to food and eating b

Attitude: defined as jugdments. developed on the ABC model (affect, Behaviour and cognition)

  • The affective response, emotional; response expressing individuals degree of preference for an entity
  • The behavioural intention, verbal indication/typical behaviour tendency of an individual.
  • The Cognitive response, cognitive evaluation of the entity (a individuals belifs of an object)

Attitudes result of Direct experience or observational learning. from the enviroment.
Direct experience - related to taste, and the physical and psychological consequences of eating certain foods.
Observational Learning - depends on familiarity, parental example, cultural factors.

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Cultural influences.

Culture is a learned shared behaviour of members of a society, including: social norms, attitudes, values and beliefs generally shared by members fo the same society.

Ethnicity: Anorexia and Bulimia more prevalent in industrialized societies, eaching disorders are more characteristic of white woman than black or asian women (Powell & Khan, 1995)

Ball & Kennedy - Studied fourteen thousand women between 18 and 23 in Australia. Results:for all ethnic groups, longer the time spent in Australia, the more the women reported attitudes and eating behaviours similar to those born in Australia. Acculturation effect.

Nasser - 50 Egyptian women in London universities compared with 60 Egyptian women in Cairo universities. 12% of London sample developed an eating disorder, none in Cairo. supports acculturation effect. suggesting cultural norms can influence eating behaviours.

Issues and debates: Generalisability, gender bias, methods, cultural differences,

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Cultural influences -Becker et al.

Aim: Investigate the impact of western media on disorder eating in fijian adolescent girls.
Quantitive survay, and narrative data on 65 teenage Fijian girls from the same school.
Findings: Scores 1995 0% comapred to 1998 11% for those who make themselves sick.


Difficult to find subjects without media exposure, fiji low prevalance  of eating disorders only one reported case pre 1990's, lack of tv exposure before 1995.
Longitudinal study, drop off rate, only 71% response rate.

Difficult to find the causal relationship,
Observational study,
Small sample size all from one school and all girls.
Study implies media has a great effect on eating disorders and more can be done of how being attractive is portrayed in the media.
Alternative approaches: Increased consumerism, gentics, cognitive approach, psychodynamic approach, evalutionary approach.

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Schachter (1968) people become obese eat for emotional reasons. thin people eat for hunger. overeating (hyperphagia) and under-eating (hypophagia) are a way of managing emotions. Many people eat in reponse to their mood, regardless of size. Brush (1965)

Stone and Brownell (1994)
Longitudinal study on stress and eating patterns of 158 students for 84 day. They found:
- Stress caused them to eat less
- change in appetite can be a symptom of a mood disorder or depression
- Negative mood (dsyphoria) can be masked by temporary heightened mood induced by eating
This study has an issue with causality, unsure whether stress causes a decreased appetite or vice versa
could be due to economic reasons.
problems of generalisability as all were students
other studies contradict findings, Verokabken et al, correlational analysis on mood and impulse buying. Found those with low self esteem more likely to impulse buy and consume snacks. behaviour possibly attempt to cope with emotional distress caused by self esteem.

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Mood - Corsaro & Spring study

Carbohydrate craving syndrome
some people experience desire for sweet and starchy foods when stressed. carbs trigger an improvment in mood. (serotonin, an amino acid in carbohydrates)
Corsaro & Spring (2008) - conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
- 21 overweigh woman who craved carbohydrates.
- Measures were taken for mood and hunger.
- Feeling of dysphoria was triggered
- Carbohydrate drinks had a higher 'anti-depressant' effect than non carbohydrate drinks. origanal

  • study is estrocentric study completed on woman - beta bias
  • small sample size
  • double blind helps avoid demand characteristics
  • extremely well controlled methodology
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Health concerns

There are differences between individuals and cultural groupings in their desire to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid unhealthy diets.
Education and health awareness plays a role, sourse of message is important, most people ave knowledge of healthy eating but other factors effect practise e.g income, accessibility to healthy food (price) and social/cultural influences.

Dennison et al (2001) -  Reduced-fat milk was drunk in familes whos parents were collage educated. Suggesting higher education levels provide individuals to sort through conflicting media information about diet and health outcomes.

However the study only looks at milk.
But the study has real world applications - those with higher education may be able to create better oportunites to promote healthy lives for their children.
Alternative explanation -  highly processed food is often cheaper than healthy choises, those on low incomes have tigher budget constraints. thus choose cheaper energy dense food rather than expensive healthier food.

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Health concerns

Xie et al (2003) - supports Dennison. In a study found: those form higher-income families ate more healthily than those from low-income households. suggesting higher ecuation may create better opportunities to promote health outcomes in children.

Study raises the issue that it's necessary to educate people about how to eat healthily on a tight budget.
However this is also Socially sensitive research - saying education levels leads to better diets can pathologise those without college education. 

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Explanations for the success and failure of dietin

The weighting game.
Dieting: placing a cognitive limit on food intake and attempting to eat up to a limit that is less than the person would normally want to eat.

Main types of diet:
1. Restricting the total amount of food eaten.
2. Refraining from eating certian types of food.
3.Avoid eating for long periods of time.

Restraint theory - research suggests as  up to 89% of female population restrict their food intake at some point in their lives. (Klesges et al 1987.)
Restraint theory developed in an attempt to expain the causes and consequences associated with the cognitive restriction of food intake.
Warlde and Beales - 27 obese women randomly assigned to a: diet group, exercise group or a non-treatment group for seven weeks. participants assed in labratory condtions in weeks 4+6. Week 4, intake and appetite assed after prelude. week 6 assessed under stressful conditions. Results: in both assessments, diet group at more than other two.

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Explanations for the success and failure of dietin

Dieting can result in a war between our cognitions/emotions and the biological mechanism that control our body weight set point.

The boundary model - Herman & Polivy 1984, they attempted to explain why dieting oculd lead to overeating, saying:
Hunger aims to keep intake of food above a minimum level.
Satiation aims to keep it below a maximum level.
Psychological factors have a large impact between levels.
Large min+max range, take longer to get hungry and need more to feel satisfied.
Restrained eaters have a self imposed desired intake once over this boundary, continue to eat untill maximum is reached. (they are less sensitive to cues of hunger and feeling full, model suggests craving and distress can lead to overeating in dieters.
Herman & Mack - Gave participants a pre-load either high or low in calories. pps then told they're taking part in a taste performance test, pps let alone to do test in own time,
Results; dieters ate more in the test if they had high calorie preload.
Methodology was strong and effective, may have a small sample but peer reviewd and published at the time.

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Explanatipons of the success and failure of dietin

Evaluation of restraint theory.
Implications of restraint theory: Herman & Mack study indicates that restraint actually leads to excess eating.
However in the treatment of obesity restraint is a solution to weight gain. failed dieting attempts leave obese people depreesed and feeling as failures. Although obesity isn't caused by overeating, overeating may be a consequence of obesity if restraint is reccommened as a treatment.
Limited relevance: Ogden - although dieters, and some anorexics report episodes of overeating, the behaviour of restricting anorexics can't be explained with this theory.
Culture: suggest some cultural groups find dieting hard due to natural inclination to obesisty e.g Asian adults more prone to obesity than Europeans.

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Explanation for the success and failure of dieting

Denial: attempting to surpress or deny a though often leads to the opposite effect.
Wegner - asked participants to not think about a white bear and ring the bell when they do. also asked other participants to think about the bear.
those that were told not to think about the bear rang their bells more often.
Wegner calls this the theory of ironic processes of mental controlm as it represents a paradoxical effect of though control. As soon as food is denied it becomes more attractive.
Research support
Soetens et al - pps divied into restrained/unrestrained eaters. Restrained group subdivided into high/low disinhibitation. Disinhabited group (restrained) used more though suppression than others and showed rebound effect  afterwards. study supports as restrained eaters who tend to over eat try to surpress thoughts about food more often, however when they do think more about food afterwards.
Evaluation: study has gender bias (most dieters women), ethical issue of protection of pps: those who are trying to diet are "tricked into over-eating"
Alternative approach: Redden suggests secret is to focus on the specific details of each meal.

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Explanation of the success and failure of dieting

Redden suggest that "the devil is in the detail"
Redden jelly beans experiment
135pps split into two control groups given 22 jelly beans one at a time.
Group 1: general information flashed on a screen about the bean e.g bean no.5.
Group 2: specific detail e.g flavour.
Group 1: became bored faster
Group 2: enjoyed task more.

Supports importance of detail
methods use of self report tecnique can be unreliable and demand characteristics
independent groups design is effected by individaul differences.
Gender bias - focus is on females who are more likely to diet therefore not applicable to males
Cultural bias - dieting is a more western behaviour so can't be used to apply to eastern cultures
Boundary model - comination of nature and nurture

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