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Food for thought: Contravening lay beliefs of eating at heart of our dietary disasters
Date:11/4/2011

Waste not, want not. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don't snack before supper; you'll ruin your appetite.

These dietary pearls of wisdom have been dropped on children for decades, and University of Alberta researcher Robert Fisher says that while people remember them, they quite often have a hard time applying them. In an article recently published in the journal Appetite, Fisher's research notes that while people know the rules surrounding good eating and proper nutrition, they seem to lack one common component that often costs them the battle of the bulge: willpower.

Eating up with the Joneses

Yet, he says, our eating habits are a result of the battle between two conflicting sets of normsdescriptive and injunctive. Injunctive norms are beliefs of what are right or wrong or good or bad in terms of behaviours. These values arrive externally from groups such as family, peers or government, or educational materials. Whether or not a person adheres to those values determines whether the person is rewarded or punished within that group. Descriptive norms, though, are those that define what most people do in terms of actions or behaviours. So, says Fisher, while we know that eating cheeseburgers might be bad for us, the signs in our environment give us the green light to consume.

"Not only is fast-food advertising very prevalent, but you see fast food signs, restaurants and wrappers everywhere," he said. "I think as a result, our baseline notion of what is normal is also changing. It's a bigger part of our lives than it ever has been before and there's no going back."

Food for thought: the rules associated with eating

The focus of Fisher's study, developed with Laurette Dub from McGill University, defined the lay beliefs of Americans with regards to rules about eating. Responses such as not snacking, always eating breakfast and not wasting food were common responses. Throug
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Contact: Jamie Hanlon
jamie.hanlon@ualberta.ca
780-492-9214
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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