Social Factors Heavily Influence Food Habits, Shows Study

    December 30, 2013
    Sean Patterson
    Comments are off for this post.

It’s often pointed out anecdotally that food portion sizes in the U.S. are larger than those in other countries, which could contribute to the country’s increasing obesity epidemic. Now a new study has shown that this and other social factors might actually contribute to the food choices made by everyone.

The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, shows that peer pressure is a significant influencer on human food choices. Researchers found that informing study participants of others’ eating choices could influence whether they chose to eat high- or low-calorie foods. Having others suggest that participants eat more also increase the amount of calories consumed.

“It appears that in some contexts, conforming to informational eating norms may be a way of reinforcing identity to a social group, which is in line with social identity theory,” said Eric Robinson, lead investigator on the study and a psychologist at the University of Liverpool. “By this social identity account, if a person’s sense of self is strongly guided by their identity as a member of their local community and that community is perceived to eat healthily, then that person would be hypothesized to eat healthily in order to maintain a consistent sense of social identity.”

The study’s authors found that these factors can influence eating habits even when people are eating alone. Social norms were found to alter the normal behavior of study participants, even when they did not believe their behavior was influenced in such a way or when they had no motivation to please others.

“The evidence reviewed here is consistent with the idea that eating behaviors can be transmitted socially,” said Robinson. “Taking these points into consideration, the findings of the present review may have implications for the development of more effective public health campaigns to promote ‘healthy eating.’ Policies or messages that normalize healthy eating habits or reduce the prevalence of beliefs that lots of people eat unhealthily may have beneficial effects on public health.”

  • Really?

    Do they really pay people to come up with this stuff? Don’t you think this is a bit obvious. Listen people. Obesity is this simple.

    -Some foods taste great and people gorge themselves on them. They stuff their face. A freaking steak burrito tastes damn good and it has a ton of calories and I don’t care that it does.

    -When people are alone and sad, they eat. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing.

    -They are putting all kinds of steroids and additives in our food. That isn’t good for you. My twelve year old daughter is as big as my wife and has more curves than my wife. That isn’t a good thing and it isn’t genetic. It is because of the food.

    -America is spending half their damn day on the internet and on twitter. You aren’t moving when that happens. When you don’t move. You get fat. Human beings weren’t meant to sit in front of a computer all day. If we were, we would have been born attached to one.

    There is the causes of obesity right there. It was free. Don’t waste more money on this topic.

  • http://www.lloydessentials.com/ weight loss plan uk

    I am surprised why people chase taste by losing their health? There is a lot of awareness nowadays but still there is an increase in obesity level. I think if we imagine our life with obesity and its dreadful results on our health, we will surely won’t compromise on our health. After all it’s our own life.

  • http://fashion22.com/ fashion 22

    Really coole idea. It mainly effect on daily and at the end on whole life.

  • http://www.world-pharma.in/ steroids

    I often wonder why people compromise on health under the influence of social factors.I think,their must be some rules of eating habits and we should remain firm about it.These are nice words quite helpful in improving our health.Thanks.