Determinants of Food Habits and Cultures

DETERMINANTS OF FOOD HABITS AND CULTURES 10

Determinantsof Food Habits and Cultures

Determinantsof Food Habits and Cultures

Duringthelonghistoryof man,there are severalfactorsthat determinethefoodhabitsandculture.Thesefoodhabitsandculturesincludedecisionsabout thetypeof foodeaten,themealstructure,thenumberof mealstakenin a day,andthetimeeachmealis taken.Giventhedietary changesof thepopulation,there is a needforgreaterunderstandingof thefactorsthat influencethefoodhabitsandculturesof thatpopulation(Rosdahl &amp Kowalski, 2008). Whileeachhouseholdhas a differentreasonfortheadoptedfoodhabitandcultures,there are similarfactorsthat can be singled out as themaincontributingfactorforeachfoodhabitandcultures,among them thegeographicalfactors,thesocialandeconomicfactorsas wellas thebiologicalfactorssuchas hungerandappetite.Othersincludethephysicalfactorssuchas theaccessto food,skillsof foodpreparation,attitudes,knowledgeandbeliefsabout certaintypesof food,as wellas thepsychologicalfactorssuchas stressandmood(Kittler, Sucher &amp Nahikian-Nelms, 2012).Theobjectiveof thisresearchis to analyzethevariousfactorsthat determinefoodhabitsandcultureswithin differenthouseholds.

GeographicalFactors

First,climateis acriticalfactorofgeographythat significantly affectsfoodchoicesandeatinghabits.Climatedeterminesthetypeof foodgrownin an area,thelengthof a seasonandthenumberofseasonsin a year.Areasin temperateregionshaverelativelyshorterseasonsin comparisonwith areasof coldtemperatureshencehavea widervarietyof foodcropsowingto theincreasednumberof seasons(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012).On thecontrary,areasin coldregionshavelongergrowingseasonshencefewnumberof seasonsper year,which translatesto lessercropvarieties.Moreover,seasonsaffecttheeatinghabitsof thehouseholds,wherebypeoplechoosedifferentfoodtypebetween summerandwinter.Forinstance,householdsare morelikelyto takemoreof theenergy-giving foods,servedwhilehotduring winters,buttakelessof theseduring summer.Othergeographicalfactorthat affectsthefoodhabitsandculturesis thelivingposition,wherebyhouseholdslivingnear waterbodiessuchas seas andoceansare likelyto havemoresea-foods in their dietsas comparedto their counterpartslivingin inland areas.Forinstance,thepeopleof California are likelyto includesea-foods in their dietsas comparedto householdsin Colorado owingto their geographicalproximityto a waterbody(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012).

Biologicaldeterminants of foodchoice

Hungerandsatiety

Humanphysiological needsprovidetheprimarydeterminant of foodchoice.Humansrequireenergyandnutrients to survivefoodis themainsourceof theseelements.Assuch,manwill respondto theseneedsby feelinghungry,andsatiety (thesatisfactionof appetitethat is devoidof hungerbetween two eatingperiods).Themacro-nutrients foundin foods,thecarbohydrates,fats,proteinsandvitamins havedifferentstrengthsof satiety, hencetakingfoodsof a particularmacronutrient has a significantinfluenceon thetypeof foodtaken.Researchattests thatfatshavethelowestsatiating powerwhilethecarbohydratesandstarchhaveimmediatesatiation effect.Theproteinsare themostsatiating macro-nutrients, hencetakingfoodswith highlevels of proteinsreduceschancesof hunger,hencetheextendedtimebetween meals.Additionally, lowsatiety leadsto passiveoverconsumption, andin mostcasesconsumptionof largevolumeof foods(Singer &amp Mason, 2006).

Palatability

Palatabilityis theproportionate pleasurethat is derivedwheneatinga particulartypeof foodcomparedto others. Palatability depends on taste,texture,appearanceandsmell.Sweettasting high-fat foodswith appealing smellhaveundeniablesensoryappealhenceare generallyconsumedforpleasurevalueratherthan nourishment.Theincreasedconsumptionof foodswith highpalatability levels leadsto highconsumption,henceconsumptionlevels aredirectlycorrelatedwith foodpalatability. Palatability is alsoknownto increaseappetites,leadingto increasedconsumptionof otherfoodvarieties(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012).

SensoryAspects

Tasteisconstantlyreportedas themajorinfluenceon foodbehavioramong humans.In reality,tastein thesumof allsensorystimulation that is producedby ingesting a foodproduct.Itinvolvesnot justthetaste,butalsothesmell,textureandappearanceof thefood.Thesesensoryaspectshavebeenknownto be themajordeterminant of thetypeof foodthat is consumedby individuals.Theinnatehumantraitshavea tendencyto likesweetnessanddislikebitterness,hencehumanare morelikelyto eatfoodproductsthat are sweet,as comparedto thebitterfoodproducts(Rosdahl &amp Kowalski, 2008).

EconomicandPhysicalDeterminants

Undoubtedly,foodcostis a notabledeterminantof foodto be consumedby households,and whether this cost is prohibitive varies depending on the level ofincome per household. Those having high income also have a highpurchasing power in comparison to thelow-income households.In this regard, low income households have the possibility ofconsuming unbalanced diets or even skipping some meals all together.However, it is notable that, high income does not always translate toqualitydietsbutrathertherangeof foodsfrom which an individualcan choosefrom (Kittler, Sucher &amp Nahikian-Nelms, 2012)

Accessibilityto foodserviFceoutletsis amajorphysicalfactorthat significantly affectsthechoiceof foodtakenby thehousehold.Accessibilityis affectedby suchfactorssuchas transport,geographicallocationamong otherfactors.Healthyfoodsare likelyto be expensivewhenavailablewithin thecitiesandtowns,as comparedto theoutskirts. Thehighpricesof foodin townsreducethepurchasing powerof thehouseholds,therebychangingthechoiceof foodto be consumedby thehousehold.However,easingtheaccessto foodsellingoutletsalonedoesnot increasethepurchaseof foodproductssuchas fruits,that are regardedto be prohibitively expensiveit,however,increasesthechoiceof foodtypesavailableforthepopulace(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012).

SocialDeterminant of FoodChoices

Thechoiceof foodtakenby thehouseholdisconstrainedby circumstancesthat are essentiallyculturalandsocial.Studiesattest thatthere is acleardifferencein socialclasseswhenitcomesto thechoiceof foodtaken.Among thesocialfactorsthat determinethenutrients intakein thehouseholdincludethehouseholdlevel of education,culturalinfluences,socialcontextandsocialsetting(Singer &amp Mason, 2006).

Education

Researchattests thatknowledgeandthelevel of educationof thehousehold,especiallytheprimarycaregiver, has a significantinfluenceon thedietary choicesof thehousehold.Levels of knowledgeare proportionately directlycorrelatedto healthydietsFamilies that haveeducatedandknowledgeablehouseholdsare morelikelyto eathealthyfoodsas comparedto lesseducatedhouseholds(Rosdahl &amp Kowalski, 2008).

CulturalInfluences

Eachhouseholdascribes to specificculturallawsthat playa significantrolein thefoodchoicesof thehousehold.Assuch,culturalfactorshaveasignificantinfluenceinconsumption,leadingto a habitualconsumptionofcertaintypesof food,whilerestrictingconsumptionof others. Additionally, culturesinfluencethewayfoodsare preparedandthenumberandstructureof foodin thesociety.However,culturalinfluencesare largelyamenableto thelocalculturesof thecountryof residenceof thehousehold.Assuch,householdsthat moveto newcountriesare likelyto adaptto foodchoicesandhabitsof thelocalcultures(Singer &amp Mason, 2006).

Additionally,theimmediatesocietymembershavea significantinfluenceon thechoiceof foodtakenby thehousehold.Thesocialinfluenceof foodchoicereferto theimpactone personora groupof peoplewhoare closeto thehouseholdhaveon theeatinghabitsof thehousehold(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012).Thesehavea directorindirectinfluenceon thefoodchoice,since thehouseholdwill purchasefoodproductsthat are similarto their peers,andadopttheir eatinghabitseitherconsciously orsubconsciously. Evenwhileeatingalone,theeatinghabitsare influencedby socialfactorssince justlike otherbehaviors,eatinghabitsare influencedby interactionwith others.Socialsettingsin which thefoodistakencan alsohavea significantinfluenceon thechoiceof foodtakenby individuals.Theseincludetherestaurants,work,andschoolsandotherplaceswhereindividualstaketheir food.Availability of foodin suchvenues increasesthepossibilitiesof eatinghealthyfoodsamong individuals(Kittler, Sucher &amp Nahikian-Nelms, 2012).

PhysiologicalFactors

Stress

Stressis a physiological factorthat is knownto influencehumanbehaviors,evenchangingthetypeof foodchosenby individuals.Theimpactsof stresson thetypeof foodtakendepend on theindividual,thestressor andthecircumstanceof thestressed person.In general,somepeopletendto eatmoreof one typeof foodwhileothers prefera differenttypeof foodwhileunder stress.Additionally, someindividualstendto eatmorethan normalwhenexperiencingstress,whileothers eatmuchlessfoodsthan normal.Theproposedmechanismforstress-induced changesin foodchoicesarecategorizedinto physiological, motivational andpracticalchanges(Singer &amp Mason, 2006). Themotivational factorsincludethereducedorincreasedconcernsabout weightcontrolthephysiological factorsincludeincreasedorreducedappetitesin timesof stress,whilethepracticalchangesincludethephysicalfactorsthat changethenormaleatinghabits.In mostcases,prolongedworkstressleadsto unhealthyeatinghabits,increasingchancesof weightgainandrisksof cardiovascular complications(Rosdahl &amp Kowalski, 2008).

Mood

Inmiddleages,Philosophers suchas Hippocrates suggestedthehealing powerbutitwasnot until laterthatfoodswasconsidereda toolforimprovingmoodandmodifytemperament.Today,nutritionists havedetailedthesignificantimpactsof foodson humanmoodandtemperament.Moodalsohasastronginfluenceon thetypeof foodtakenby individuals,withjovialmoodsleadingto consumptionof foodthat is consideredaptforjovialmood.Assuch,moodaffectsthetypeof foodtaken,with attitudesdeterminingthetypeof foodto betakenin moodysituations(Sizer, Piché &amp Whitney, 2012). However,there existsan ambivalentrelationshipwith food,wherebymostpeoplefailto enjoythefooddeterminedby their moodowingto dietary concerns.However,researchattests thatwomenare moresusceptibleto cravingsas comparedto men,with theseverityincreasingduring thepremenstrual phase,especiallywhentheyare in depressedmoods.Assuch,bothmoodandstressare majorpsychologicalfactorsthat determinethetypeof foodtakenby individuals(Singer &amp Mason, 2006).

Eatingdisorders

Eatinghabitsarein most cases subjectedto sophisticatedcognitivecontrol,with dieting becominga notable cognitivecontrolover eatinghabits(Kittler,Sucher &amp Nahikian-Nelms, 2012). The need to improve body shape aswell as reduce weight gives rise to dieting as peoplestriveto acquiretheir desiredshapes.However, it is notable that, extremitiesof dieting andexercising can resultto eatingdisorders(Kittler, Sucher &amp Nahikian-Nelms, 2012).

Otherfactorsthat are knownto influencefoodhabitsandculturesincludeconsumerattitudesandbeliefs.Individualsare likelyto consumea specifictypeof foodowingto their attitudetowards thatfoodtype.Suchattitudesincludequality,freshness andtasteof thefoodcommodity.Beliefsthat certaintypesof foodsare unhealthyleadto a significantshiftfrom thesetypesof foodto morehealthytypes.Forinstance,abeliefthatsaturatedfatsare unhealthyandpredisposeindividualsto heartdiseaseshas significantly reducedtheconsumptionof fatsamong thepopulace.Conversely, theperceptionthatthedietconsumedby thepopulaceis adequatelyhealthyleadshighlevel of satisfactionwith suchtypeof food,therebyincreasingits consumption(Rosdahl &amp Kowalski, 2008).

Fromtheabove,there are severalfactorsthatdeterminethefoodhabitsandcultureswithin thesociety.Theseincludetheeconomic,social,culturalas wellas physiological andgeographicalfactors.Geographicalfactorsincludetheaccessibilityof foodtypesowingto climatic factors,whilethebiologicalfactorsthat determinefoodchoices,habitsandculturesincludehunger,satiety andpalatability of theavailablefoodtype.Socialfactorssuchas education,socialsetups,andculturesalsohavea significantinfluenceon thetypeof foodtakenby thesociety.Otherfactorsincludetheeconomicfactors,which determinethetypeof foodto bepurchasedby individualsas wellas thepsychologicalfactorssuchas moodsandstress.However,issuesof foodhabitsandculturesare broad,with thefoodhabitsandculturesof a familybeingdefinedby morethan one of theabove-mentioneddeterminants.

References

Kittler,P. G., Sucher, K., &amp Nahikian-Nelms, M. (2012). Foodand culture.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Rosdahl,C. B., &amp Kowalski, M. T. (2008). Textbookof basic nursing.Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins.

Singer,P., &amp Mason, J. (2006). The way we eat: Why our food choicesmatter. Minneapolis, MN: HighBridge.

Sizer,F. S., Piché, L. A., &amp Whitney, E. N. (2012). Nutrition:Concepts and controversies.Toronto: Nelson Education.