Eating Behaviour.

Overview of Studies and theories behind the attitude to food and eating behaviour.


Food & Eating Behaviour - Social Learning

Parental Modeling - Observing parents behaviour to food alos has a huge impact. Parents control what food coems into the home so children adapt to that food. Research also suggests that parents' attitudes and children's attitudes to food are the same. Ogden (2004) - consisten correlation between children and their parents eating habits, snack food intake and body dissatisfaction.

Media effects - Maclntyre et al (1998) found that the media affects what we eat and our attitudes towards food. However researchers also state that eating habits are due to personal circumstances (ie, income, age etc). People take what they learn from the media and put it into a way in which it would suit their lifestyle.

Evaluation - Meyer & Gast (2008) surveyed 10-12 year old girls and boys. Found correlation between peer influence and disordered eating. - likability considered most important factor.

Super models cause females to want a slimmer figure - evolutionary approach suggests we want fatty and sugary food due to our ancestors as they needed the energy to survive.

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Food & Eating Behaviour - Cultural Differences

  • Ethinicity - (Powell & Khan, 1995) Eating disorders are more likely to occur with White women rather than black or asian women.
  • Ball & Kenardy (2002) conducted a study on 14 thousand women between the ages of 18-23 in Australia. They found all ethinic groups developed the same ideolised image of themselves as those born in Australia. This is known as the 'Acculturation effect'.
  • Mumford et al (1991) found bulemia was greater among Asian school girls rather than White school girls.
  • Striegel-Moore et al (1995) found Black girls had more of a strive for thinness than White girls.

Social Class - Dieting & eating disorers more common in higher-class individuals. Dornbusch et al (1984) - (7000 adolescents surveyed) Higher-Class school girls had a greater desire to become thin that Lower-Class school girls.

In contradiction to this, Story et al (1995) found that the higher social class were more content with their weight & were less likely to go to extremes to maintain a low weight. Other studies have found no relationship between social class and eating behaviour.

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Food & Eating Behaviour - Mood

Binge-Eating -

  • Those suffering with Bulemia Nervosa (BN) feel anxiety before a binge. Self-Monitoring studies have shown that 1hr before a binge the indivdual had more negative mood states. Wegner et al (2002) had students recording their eating patterns and moods over a two-week period - showed low mood before binge but no change after. This shows that binge eating doesnt alleviate the low mood state.
  • Why do we binge-eat if it does not help us feel better?

Comfort-eating - Garg et al (2007) conducted a study on 38 participants. They were offered either grapes or popcorn whilst one group watched a sad movie and the other watched an upbeat movie. Those who watched the sad movie ate 36% more popcorn than those who watched the happy movie. This shows us that when we are feeling low we are more likely to go for sugary foods rather than healthy foods.

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Issues/debates & how science works - evaluation po

  • Nature/Nurture Debate - Does the way our family react to food change our opinion on it?
  • Deterministic - Some people feel better after a binge - not everyone fits into the criteria this links in with :
  • Individual differences - What about those who differ from what the study's tell us?
  • Cultural Bias - not everywhere has been compared. some cultures are very different so studies cannot be generalised.
  • A lot of studies lack ecological validity and generaliseability - e.g. Garg et al (2007) - can the false emotions given to us by films be similar to the emotions we feel ona daily basis? How can this apply to real life?
  • Studies are also done in controlled setting making them hard to apply to real life. watching a film is not the same as experiencing emotions due to goings on in our lives.
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