DISCUSS ATTITUDES TO FOOD AND/OR EATING BEHAVIOUR
The first explanation for attitudes to food and eating behaviour focuses is social learning. This focuses on how social learning observation of others impacts on our own attitudes and behaviours. There are two aspects of social learning relating to eating behaviour the first of which is parental modelling. Parents have an inevitable influence on children’s attitudes since because they control which foods are bought and served in the home. However, correlations have also been found between children and parent snacking, eating motivations and body dissatisfaction, indicating that the influence parental eating behaviours have on children is very strong. The second aspect of social learning is the effect the media has on society’s eating attitudes. It has been found that the media have a major impact both on what people eat and their attitudes to certain foods. But, the effect the media can have on eating behaviours is limited by factors such as age, income and family circumstances. Therefore, whilst people appear to learn about healthy eating from the media, they must also place the information in their life context; it was this idea which led Jamie Oliver to set up his BBC ‘Ministry of Food’ experiment in 2008.
Commentary on social learning includes research support. For example, a survey of 10-12 year olds found a significant positive correlation between peer influence and disordered eating. The likeability of peers was considered the most important factor in this relationship. Another study has shown that the best predictors of a daughters’ eating behaviour is the mother’s dietary restraint and her perception of the risk of her daughters becoming overweight. Both of these studies demonstrate the importance of social learning in influencing attitudes to food.
The second explanation is cultural influence on eating behaviours. Firstly, it has been found that ethnicity has a strong impact on food attitudes. For example, body dissatisfaction and related eating disorders are more characteristic of white women than black or Asian women. In addition to this, ethnicity has been linked to the acculturation effect. This was shown in a study of 14,000 women aged 18-23 in Australia which found that, for all ethnic groups, the more time spent in Australia, the more the women reported attitudes and eating behaviours similar to women born in Australia. Secondly, social class has been shown to be important since many studies have concluded that body dissatisfaction, dieting behaviours and eating disorders are more common in higher-class individuals. For example a survey of 7000 American adolescents found that higher class females had a greater desire to be thin, and were more likely to diet to achieve this. Another study shows similar results since the 2003 Scottish Health Survey established that generally income is positively associated with healthy eating.
Commentary on cultural influence and ethnicity includes that the research into this area is preoccupied with dieting and eating disorders among white females, but other studies have shown different results. For example it was found that the incidence of…