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Socio-Economic Development: Prof. Adam Szirmai

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The Factors That Influence Our Food Choices

Share your feedback on WikiFoundry Central. Bertrand Roehner 75 Bertrand Roehner. Roehner , Professor Bertrand M Roehner. This book was first published in In recent years network science has become a dynamic and promising discipline; here it is extended to explore social and historical phenomena.

About the Book

While we experience social interactions every day, there is little quantitative knowledge on them. Instead we are often tempted to resort to fanciful explanations to explain social trends. Exogenous and endogenous interactions are often the key to understanding social phenomena and unravelling historical mysteries.

This book begins by explaining how it is possible to bridge the gap between physics and sociology by exploring how network theory can apply to both.

The ambivalent relationship with food — wanting to enjoy it but conscious of weight gain is a struggle experienced by many. Dieters, people with high restraint and some women report feeling guilty because of not eating what they think they should Moreover, attempts to restrict intake of certain foods can increase the desire for these particular foods, leading to what are described as food cravings. Women more commonly report food cravings than do men.

2. Eating disorders

Depressed mood appears to influence the severity of these cravings. Reports of food cravings are also more common in the premenstrual phase, a time when total food intake increases and a parallel change in basal metabolic rate occurs Thus, mood and stress can influence food choice behaviour and possibly short and long term responses to dietary intervention. Eating behaviour, unlike many other biological functions, is often subject to sophisticated cognitive control.

One of the most widely practised forms of cognitive control over food intake is dieting. Many individuals express a desire to lose weight or improve their body shape and thus engage in approaches to achieve their ideal body mass index. The aetiology of eating disorders is usually a combination of factors including biological, psychological, familial and socio-cultural.

The occurrence of eating disorders is often associated with a distorted self-image, low self-esteem, non-specific anxiety, obsession, stress and unhappiness Treatment of an eating disorder generally requires weight stabilisation and one-to-one psychotherapy. Prevention is more difficult to define but suggestions include avoidance of child abuse; avoidance of magnifying diet and health issues; showing affection without over-controlling; not setting impossible standards; rewarding small attainments in the present; encouraging independence and sociability A better understanding of how the public perceive their diets would help in the design and implementation of healthy eating initiatives.

These are average figures obtained by grouping 15 European member states results, which differed significantly from country to country.

Driving Forces in Physical, Biological and Socio-economic Phenomena: A ...

In the USA the following order of factors affecting food choices has been reported: taste, cost, nutrition, convenience and weight concerns Males more frequently selected 'taste' and 'habit' as main determinants of their food choice. Interventions targeted at these groups should consider their perceived determinants of food choice. Attitudes and beliefs can and do change; our attitude to dietary fat has changed in the last 50 years with a corresponding decrease in the absolute amount of fat eaten and a change in the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat.

This high level of satisfaction with current diets has been reported in Australian 53 , American 10 and English subjects The lack of need to make dietary changes, suggest a high level of optimistic bias, which is a phenomenon where people believe that they are at less risk from a hazard compared to others.

Although these consumers have a higher probability of having a healthier diet than those who recognise their diet is in need of improvement, they are still far short of the generally accepted public health nutrition goals It is also unlikely that these groups will be motivated further by dietary recommendations.

Hence, future interventions may need to increase awareness among the general population that their own diet is not wholly adequate in terms of, for example fat, or fruit and vegetable consumption For those who believe their diets to be healthy it has been suggested that if their beliefs about outcomes of dietary change can be altered, their attitudes may become more favourable and they therefore may be more likely to alter their diets Thus, a perceived need to undertake change is a fundamental requirement for initiating dietary change Household income and the cost of food is an important factor influencing food choice, especially for low-income consumers.

2. Eating disorders

In addition, a lack of knowledge and the loss of cooking skills can also inhibit buying and preparing meals from basic ingredients. Education on how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in an affordable way such that no further expense, in money or effort, is incurred has been proposed as a solution Efforts of governments, public health authorities, producers and retailers to promote fruit and vegetable dishes as value for money could also make a positive contribution to dietary change Lack of time is frequently mentioned for not following nutritional advice, particularly by the young and well educated People living alone or cooking for one seek out convenience foods rather than cooking from basic ingredients.

This need has been met with a shift in the fruit and vegetables market from loose to prepacked, prepared and ready-to-cook products. These products are more expensive than loose products but people are willing to pay the extra cost because of the convenience they bring. Developing a greater range of tasty, convenient foods with good nutritional profiles offers a route to improving the diet quality of these groups. Understanding how people make decisions about their health can help in planning health promotion strategies.


  • High-energy beta decay of light elements;
  • Current Status and Past Trends of the Global Carbon Cycle.
  • Driving Forces in Physical, Biological and Socio-Economic Phenomena;
  • Sonic Butler.

This is where the influence of social psychology and its associated theory-based models play a role. These models help to explain human behaviour and in particular to understand how people make decisions about their health. They have also been used to predict the likelihood that dietary behaviour change will occur. This section focuses on a select few. This model also suggests that people need some kind of cue to take action to change behaviour or make a health-related decision.

The Theory of Reasoned Action 4 or its extension in the form of The Theory of Planned Behaviour 5 have been used to help explain as well as to predict the intention of a certain behaviour. These models are based on the hypothesis that the best predictor of the behaviour is behavioural intention. The TRA has been successful in explaining behaviours such as fat, salt and milk intake. The Stages of Change model developed by Prochaska 42 and co-workers suggests that health related behaviour change occurs through five separate stages.

These are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The model assumes that if different factors influence transitions at different stages, then individuals should respond best to interventions tailored to match their stage of change. The Stages of Change model, in contrast to the other models discussed, has proven to be more popular for use in changing behaviour rather than in explaining current behaviour.

Glossary - Devotes Project

This is probably because the model offers practical intervention guidance that can be taught to practitioners. It has been suggested that a stage model may be more appropriate for simpler more discrete behaviours such as eating five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, or drinking low-fat milk food-based goals than for complex dietary changes such as low-fat eating nutrient-based goal Presently, no one theory or model sufficiently explains and predicts the full range of food-choice behaviours Models in general should be viewed as a means to understanding the factors influencing individual decisions and behaviour.

Despite the number of models of behaviour change, they have been employed in relatively few nutrition interventions; the Stages of Change model being the most popular. However, the best test of this model, whether stage-matched dietary interventions outperform standardised approaches, has yet to be performed. Dietary change is not easy because it requires alterations in habits that have been built up over a life-time.