Attitudes to Food and Eating Behaviour

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Social Learning theory would suggest that people learn attitudes and behaviours towards food through observing and imitating others. One e.g. is parental modelling- parental attitudes to food inevitably affect children because parents control the food bought and served in the home. MacIntyre et al (1998) found that media effect also influence our attitude to certain foods as well as what people choose to eat.

Research support- Meyer & Gast (2008) surveyed 10-12 yr olds and found a positive correlation between peer influence and disordered eating- citing the ‘likeability’ of peers as the most important factor. Birch & Fisher (2000) found the best predictors of the daughter’s eating behaviour were the mother’s dietary restraint and their perception of the risks of the daughters becoming overweight.

SLT explanation focuses explicitly on the role of fashion models in influencing the food attitudes of young people. However, attitudes to food can be attributed to multiple factors in addition to just SLT. E.g. evolutionary explanation suggests our preference for fatty and sweet food is due to an evolved adaptation from the EEA 2 million years ago.

Second explanation is cultural influences, e.g. ethnicity. Research suggests that body dissatisfaction and related eating concerns are more characteristic of white women than black or Asian women (Khan et al, 1995).  A second explanation is social class, which suggests that body dissatisfaction, dieting behaviour and eating disorders are more common in higher class individuals.

Mumford et al (1991) found the incidence of bulimia was greater among Asian schoolgirls than among their white counterparts. Striegel-Moore et al (1995) found more evidence



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