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Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake.

  • Agricultural Research Council - Research Center on Food and Nutrition - C.R.A.-NUT
  • Agricultural Research Council Food and Nutrition Research Centre (C.R.A.- NUT)
Gender Differences in Food Choice and
Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies
Claudia Arganini, Anna Saba,
Raffaella Comitato, Fabio Virgili and Aida Turrini
INRAN - Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione
(National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition), Rome,
“Sexual difference is probably the issue in our time
which could be our 'salvation' if we thought it through.”
Luce Irigaray
1. Introduction
A significant “male oriented” bias in science is a matter of fact (Marino et al., 2011), even
though the number of women majoring in science has increased dramatically (Yokoo, 1996).
Considering people graduated in mathematics, science and technology per 1,000 of
population aged 20-29, since 1993 up to 2009 (EUROSTAT, 2011), proportion of women is
4.4% vs. 3.4% of men. Interestingly, 4 out of 5 authors of this paper are women. It is
justifiable to ask the reason for this gender bias. We can advocate two “reasonable” reasons:
the first one has mainly sociologic concern in that different aspects of the human society still
present an odd distribution. Research is not an exception and even though the proportion of
women within professionals involved in public and private research has reached and
possibly overtaken the other gender, the target of scientific investigations is still to be
actually considered somehow unbalanced in favour of one gender. The second one has an
exquisitely pragmatic origin: in the majority of cases, and unless your research is not to be
focused on events strictly connected to females (pregnancy, lactation, few organ specific
disease), males are a simpler and cheaper experimental model than females. No needs to
carefully evaluate risk factors bound to pregnancy and lactation, to consider hormonal cycle,
no sharp changes of tissue functionality associated with ageing.
It is a matter of fact that in science, and nutritional science is not an exception, there is a widely
accepted overlapping between the terms “human” and “male”, while the term female (or
woman in the case of the specie H. Sapiens) strictly refers to “not males”. At the same time, the
majority of us would agree in defending the evidence that both the biochemistry and the
physiology significantly differ between genders, even independently on the most evident
female physiological characteristics of presenting a specific and cyclic exposure to hormones
flux. These differences are consistent with a gender-specific genetic set up, and result in a
specific capacity to relate to and cope with the environmental challenge.
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
Recent literature (Marino et al., 2011) has highlighted that nutrition could differently
influence the health of male and female individuals. It is widely accepted that nutrition is
not only “just a fuel” but is the most significant part of the environment that we actually
introduce into our body and eating patterns are a relevant component of the cultural
reference models (Harris, 1985).
Driven by the above considerations this chapter will present and discuss available data
emerging from an extensive literature review addressing differences and similarities
between genders in food choice and food consumption patterns in modern western
societies. An original elaboration of data on food consumption profiles according
to gender will also be presented and critically evaluated under the perspective
of nutrients intake and fulfilment of nutritional requirements at population level. In the
preparation of this overview, we have undertaken a bibliographical search limited
to social and scientific literature published in English. The search, informed by a strongly
limited selection of words, included databases of peer-reviewed literature (SCOPUS)
from 1995 to 2011. A ‘snowball procedure’ was employed whereby the references cited in
each article were browsed for further relevant research. An original elaboration of data on
food consumption profiles according to gender will also be presented and critically
evaluated under the perspective of nutrients intake and fulfilment of nutritional
2. Key determinants in food choice: A gender perspective
Food choices is an area in which research has revealed consistent behavioural gender
differences. Food choice is dependent on a wide spectrum of factors, which affect human
behaviour in different ways, resulting alternatively in the choice of some specific products
and in the rejection of others. The study of food choice is mostly dealing with one
question: “why do people eat the foods they eat?” Food plays an important part in all our
lives in a variety of ways. The choices people make among foods determine which
nutrients enter the body. However, in modern societies, food is more than mere
sustenance. What people choose to eat is not solely based on their biological needs, their
choice also addresses many psychological and/or emotional issues (Conner & Armitage,
2002). After all, a person does not necessarily have to be hungry to eat, does not always
choose his/her most preferred food, and some of the influences in food choice might be
unconscious. Generally speaking, food choice is a complex human behaviour and
consequently is influenced by many interrelating factors ranging from biological
mechanism and genetic profiles to social and cultural factors. Many studies have explored
selected aspects of food choices from an ample variety of disciplines and perspectives
(Axelson & Brinberg, 1989; Booth, 1994; Glanz et al., 1992; Mennell et al., 1992; Murcott,
1983; Shepherd, 1990, 2005; Thompson, 1988). Recent notions generally split the factors
influencing food choice into those related to the food, to the person making the choice and
to the external economic and social context in which the choice is made (Booth and
Shepherd, 1988; Randall and Sanjur, 1981). There are chemical components and physical
properties of the food which are likely to have an impact on choice, via sensory
perception. However, perceiving a sensory attribute in a food does not necessarily means
that a person will choose to consume that food. It is the person’s liking for that specific
attribute in that food which influences choice. Psychological differences between people,
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 85
such as personality, may also influence food choice. In addition to factors associated with
the person and the food, there are also other many factors in the context within which the
choice is made that can be important in food choice. These include marketing and
economic variables as well as social, cultural, religious or demographic variable. Food
choices are made by individuals from alternatives available in a certain use situation.
They are made repetitively, every day in various use situations: what to buy and take
home for the family, what to eat at the canteen and which dishes to choose from a menu
when eating out at a restaurant. Food choice may also be characterized by the context, a
situation determined by the time, place, and company. In Western societies the abundance
and variety of foods to choose is extensive. Anthropological and sociological work has
emphasized the meaning of food and eating in self and cultural definition (Berbesque,
2009; Counihan, 1999; Murcott, 1983; Vartaniana et al., 2007). This literature indicates that,
as mentioned above, the importance of food and eating extends well beyond a the need of
covering “physiological needs”, playing a role in identity expression, communication,
social interactions, as well as in delineating status and gender roles. Eating behaviour is
therefore likely to be vulnerable to various social influences, including the desire to
respond in a socially-desirable manner (Herman et al., 2003). Studies by Lindeman and
colleagues (Lindeman & Sirelius, 2001; Lindeman & Stark, 1999, 2000) suggest that food
choice is a means by which one expresses one’s own philosophy of life. In addition, the
current emphasis on dieting and slimness in Western cultures promotes norms describing
“what and when” one should eat, as well as what one should look like. Taken together,
these considerations suggest that what one eats has important implications for social
judgments. In addition, social changes such as the increased participation of women in the
workforce lead to reduced time available for food selection and meal preparation, which
further complicates food choice. Contemporary consumers have fears and conflicts
involving food and health (Mennell et al., 1992; Rozin et al., 1999), and social norms about
foods and meal composition, that guided previous generations, appear to be eroding,
leaving people with a lack of structure related to food and eating behaviour (Fischler,
A body of literature has consistently found that many variables may influence eating
behaviour, but their interrelations make their effect difficult to distinguish. In addition, the
analysis of the effects of single or multiple factors is further complicated by the fact that
eating behaviour is not a constant phenomenon, but will change with differing
circumstances and experiences of the individual.
Studies conducted in modern western societies report consistent associations between
gender and specific foods, where meat (especially red meat), alcohol, and hearty portion
sizes are associated with masculinity, while vegetables, fruit, fish and sour dairy products
(e.g., yogurt, cottage cheese) are associated with femininity (Jensen & Holm, 1999; Sobal,
2005). The results of a study conducted on the Hazda, a tribe of human foragers living in
Tanzania, also showed a sex differences in food preferences, with males preferring meat
more and females preferring berries more (Berbesque, 2009). Overall, the most relevant
differences according to gender in food choices in modern western societies, emerging from
our literature review, were in the relationship between eating habits and health
consciousness, and between eating behaviour and weight control. Those topics will be
discussed in the following sections.
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
2.1 Eating habits and health consciousness
In general, women have been frequently reported to engage in far more health-promoting
behaviours than men and have healthier lifestyle patterns (Courtenay, 1998, 2000; Gough &
Conner, 2006; Kandrack et al., 1991; Lonnquist et al., 1992; Roos et al., 2001).
Men usually talk about eating as habitual and routine, and as necessary activity to “fuel”
their “fleshes”. Although they are aware of “healthy eating guidelines”, they often show
skepticism and resistance to nutrition education messages, and frequently perceive healthy
eating as monotonous and unsatisfying. Some men do express interest in food, cooking, and
health, and indicate that they are reducing their consumption of red meat and increasing
consumption of vegetables (Sobal, 2005). These alternative experiences with food are more
commonly expressed by “high educational levels”, such as engineers, than by “blue-collars
workers, such as carpenters or drivers, suggesting that social class may mediate associations
between “masculinity” and food (Roos et al., 2001; Sobal, 2005).
With regard to eating habits, a large number of reports indicate that in general, women are
more aware about diet and health-diet relationship implications and also embrace suggested
dietary changes to a greater degree than men (Barker et al., 1995; Courtenay, 2000; Friel et
al., 1999; Girois et al., 2001; Thiele & Weiss, 2003). Data on a representative survey in the
Norwegian population (Fagerli & Wandel, 1999) shows that women considered health
aspects and chose accordingly the foods they consider to be healthy, more often than men
when selecting foods for an everyday dinner. Accordingly, their reported changes more
often are in line and agree with dietary guidelines. The same study also reported consistent
associations of healthier food behaviours with increased age, higher education, and female
gender. These findings are similar to the observations resulting from the analyses from a
population data set conducted in 114 worksites in the USA, overall employing 37,291
workers who were engaged in a variety of activities (Hunt et al., 1997). Also in this study,
female gender was associated with food choices closest to the recommendations to increase
fiber, fruits and vegetables and to reduce fat. A single exception was in found the adherence
to follow the recommendation to increase consumption of beans and lentils for which male
gender were associated with greater consumption. In a Pan-EU survey of 14331 subjects,
female respondents perceived that “quality/freshness”, “price”, “trying to eat healthy” and
“family preferences” were the most important influences affecting food choice, whereas
“taste” was the most frequently selected factor affecting food choice of male respondents
(Lennenäs et al., 1997). In a different study, females have been reported to be more likely
than males to mention more vegetables or less fat or balance as a part of a healthy diet
(Margetts et al., 1997).
Another factor contributing to food choices is the persuasion by others or by specific
circumstances. More women than men reported that influence of other people can prevent
them from eating healthier (Lappalainen et al., 1997). It has also been shown that men give
lower priority to health compared to other considerations, such as taste and convenience, in
making their food choices (Steptoe et al., 2002; Wardle and Griffith, 2001) and that they feel
more ambivalent about healthy dietary choices (Povey et al., 2001; Sparks et al, 2001). Earlier
studies have found significant gender differences in opinions and behaviour with regard to
different health aspects. For instance they reported that men choose fewer high-fiber foods,
eat fewer fruits and vegetables and low-fat foods, and consume more soft drink that women
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 87
(Beardsworth et al., 2002; Beer-Borst et al., 2000; Fulkerson et al., 2004;Li et al., 2000;
Liebman et al., 2001; Pollard et al., 2002; Prättälä et al., 2007; Wardle et al., 2000). The
International Health and Behaviour survey (IHBS) examined a range of health behaviours in
a total of 19298 university students from 23 different countries utilizing a study approach
based on a self-report questionnaire (Wardle et al, 2004). In almost all of the 23 countries a
higher percentage of women reported to avoid high fat-foods, to eat fiber-rich foods, to eat
fruit daily. Differences in salt intakes were less consistent but nevertheless a significant
female advantages in 6 countries was observed. Similarly, in a study on 1024 UK adults,
women reported to consume a larger number of portion of fruit and vegetables, than men
(Baker & Wardle, 2003). A research carried out in the UK, the Netherlands and in Finland
documents that women are more interested than men in eating healthily and natural
products (Roininen et al., 2001). The food choice motivations of a representative sample of
9339 Polish respondents depended mostly on gender and age (Wadolowska et al., 2008). The
study confirmed the findings of other authors about the role of females and its correlation
with health-concerned attitudes, inclination to comply with dietary recommendations and
readiness to gain new nutrition knowledge. In a nationally representative sample of Irish
adults (n=1256), it has been observed that young lowest social class, primary level education
males, were the subgroup most likely to have negative attitudes or motivation towards
healthy eating (Kearney et al.,2001). Studied conducted in Ireland reported that women
were generally more prone to make conscious efforts to try to eat a healthy diet 'most of the
time', while men were three times more likely to 'hardly ever' make such conscious efforts to
eat a healthy diet (Kearney et al., 2001; Hearty et al. 2007). Data from a representative
sample of 98733 Canadians (Canadian Community Health Survey) indicates that gender
plays an important role in determining food choices. Women are more likely than men to
choose or avoid foods following to concerns about health and, accordingly, choose or avoid
foods due to their contents (Ree et al. 2008).
In general, women have been shown to be more thoughtful about food and health issues
and they seem to have more moral and ecological misgivings about eating certain foods
than men, who are more confident and demonstrate a rather uncritical and traditional
adherence to eating profiles and pattern (Beardsworth et al., 2002; Teratanavat & Hooker,
2006; Verbeke & Vackier, 2004). There has been a great deal of interest over recent years in
the protective effect of fruit and vegetables against a number of diseases, and there is
convincing evidence that high intakes of vegetables and fruit are associated with lower risk
of chronic diseases (Colgan et al., 2004; Liu et al., 2000; Sargeant et al., 2001). International
and national health organisations (NHMRC, 2002; WHO, 2003) have recommended to
increase the consumption of vegetables and fruit as an important health and nutrition
priority. In the Health Education Authority‘s Health and Lifestyle Survey of 1993 it was
found that the main demographic characteristics that distinguished between low and high
fruit and vegetable consumers were age, gender and smoking status (Thompson et al. 1999).
These demographic characteristics perhaps result in the strongest variations in intakes of
fruit and vegetables, with women reporting higher preference for eating vegetables than
men (Thompson et al., 1999; Wardle et al., 2004). However, men reported to like fruit
slightly more than women and there was no significant gender difference in attitudes
towards fruit and vegetables, although women’s attitudes were slightly more positive
(Wardle et al., 2004).
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
One possible mechanism for the gender-specific patterns of healthy food choices might be
related to nutritional knowledge. A number of studies have reported gender differences in
the knowledge nutritional information (Crawford & Baghurst, 1990; Parmenter et al., 2000;
Tate & Cade, 1990), supporting the hypothesis that differences in awareness could
contribute to gender differences in intake. Gender, level of education and occupational
social class were found to have significant independent effect on level of nutrition
knowledge scores. In particular, women demonstrated superior knowledge regarding all the
areas of nutrition, as confirmed by the majority of studies dealing with the evaluation of
nutritional knowledge (Butriss, 1997; Parmenter et al., 2000). Food-related activities, such as
shopping, cooking and eating are conventionally presented as female-centered (Caplan et
al., 1998; Warde & Hetherington, 1994). Given women’s traditional role in purchasing,
preparing and providing food, it is not surprising that men know less about the health
benefits of specific food items (Nutrition Forum, UK, 2003). The rise in the number of people
living alone together with the decline in the number of traditional family units, where the
husband earns and the wife is responsible for shopping and cooking, has raised new
concerns. In fact, it appears that even though there is an increasing number of men cooking
for themselves and fewer relying on women to make decisions about their diets, this novel
activity is not accompanied by a significant increase in nutrition knowledge. However, the
significance of nutrition knowledge as an determinant in food choices has been questioned
in the light of evidence from research in the field of fat and fiber intake showing no more
than small correlations between nutrition knowledge and dietary quality (Shepherd and
Towler, 1992; Lappalainen et al., 1997). However, a recent study found substantial
associations between knowledge and fruit and vegetable intake, possibly because, unlike the
situation for fat intake, overall levels of public awareness are low (Wardle et al., 2000).
Fewer men than women knew the current recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake,
and fewer were aware of the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and disease
prevention. The evidence that men have a lower knowledge about nutrition, or accord lower
priority to nutrition in making their food choices, could result in lower intakes of fruit and
vegetables. However, only in four member states (Austria, Belgium, Finland and Italy)
within the Pan-Europe survey, more men than women reported lack of knowledge as a
barrier towards healthy eating (Lappalainen et al., 1997).
Even though methodological differences in assessing food choices might have been in part
generated slightly different results on gender-specific food choice, all the observations
reported here are consistent in concluding that women generally make slightly healthier
food choices. If women report healthier practices (or at least attempt to make healthier
choices) all over the world, then this would suggest that any explanations for the differences
are more likely to indicate underlying behavioural characteristics of men and women than
local cultural effects.
2.2 Eating behaviour and weight control
A factor that could contribute to gender differences in food choice is women’s greater
concern about weight control and their higher frequency of dieting. There is a consistent
body of recent literature (Afifi et al., 2002; Johnson & Wardle, 2005; Kostanski et al., 2004;
Liebman et al, 2001; Wardle et al., 2000; Wardle & Griffith, 2001) that clearly indicates that
there are important gender differences in weight concern and body self-perception.
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 89
Weight control/body perception are known to influence food choice decisions, mainly in
women (Glanz et al., 1998; Goode et al., 1995; Rozin et al., 1999). In many studies of
attitudes to body weight or dieting, women reported more dissatisfaction with their
weight and make more attempts to control weight than men (Beardsworth et al., 2002;
Bellisle et al., 1995; Wardle & Griffith, 2001;). Numerous research on body image have
shown that women are more likely than men to perceive themselves as overweight and to
express discontentment with their body shape (McElhone et al., 1999; Neumark-Sztaine
et al., 1999).
Concern with adhering to a slimming diet has been found to be significantly more
widespread among women than men (Germov & Williams, 1996; Sobal et al., 1995). A Pan-
EU survey on 15239 subjects (European Communities, 1999), reported a strong gender
difference in the percentage of people who are content with their body weight. A consistent
majority of males was comfortable with their current body weight compared with females.
Conversely, a far higher proportion of females wished to be lighter or considerably lighter
compared with males. The relative proportion choosing dieting as the strategy for losing
weight compared with other methods was highest in the group wishing to be considerably
lighter, especially among females (European Communities, 1999). On the other hand, it has
been observed that men generally prefer to select physical exercise than dieting as a means
for body weight control, while women were more inclined to select dieting, restrained
eating and daily checking of body weight (Clark et al., 2009).
Moreover, in women, the frequency of dieting is often associated with difficulties in eating
behaviour. Restrained eating behaviour, cognitive control and eating disorders are mainly
seen as behavioural phenomena more common in women. Men, on the other hand, have
fewer problems with their eating behaviour, and their attitude to food is generally
uncomplicated and enjoyable, even though they are more frequently overweight and have
higher risk of associated disease (Kiefer et al., 2005).
Problems with eating behaviour have a strong female prevalence emerging in childhood
and adolescence(Afifi-Soweid et al., 2002). Girls often eat less and pay attention to calories,
sugar and fat intake under the pressure of “feeling obliged” to be slim. Consequently, in
part due to a specific social pressure, girls are more likely than boys to develop eating
disorders (i.e., anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder). Women affected by certain eating
disorders are likely to experience a constant internal conflict between the desire of being
slim or slimmer, and the drive for certain “forbidden” food. Women are more often affected
by the problem of craving (i.e., the strong willing for certain foods) than man, being more
likely to be wishful for sweet foods. This attitude results in a difficulty in sticking to a
weight reducing-slimming diet (Lafay, et al, 2001). Extensive research showed that women
often experience the so called “carbohydrate craving” and there is an association between
the wish for sugar- and fat-rich foods (like chocolate and other sweets) and menstrual cycle
(Bruinsma and Taren, 1999, Rozin et al., 1991, Smith & Souter, 1969; Yen at al., 2010). Recent
findings showed that the wish for sweet food regresses in women with increasing age
(Kiefer et al., 2005).
In connection with the craving for particular foods, women more frequently report negative
feelings, in contrast to men who describe positive feelings (Lafay et al., 2001). Women also
eat more than usual in stressful situations more frequently than men (Kandiah et al., 2006).
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
A study dealing with the emotional triggers of “comfort” food consumption indicate that in
women this eating behaviour was triggered by negative feelings, whereas in men was
motivated by positive emotions (Dubè et al., 2005).
Differences in preference towards “comfort“ foods across gender were investigated in a
survey conducted in North America on 1416 people (Wansink et al., 2003). The findings of
this study are consistent with other research showing that females preferred “comfort”
foods within the category of snacks, such as chocolate, candy and ice cream. Indeed, one
research on “chocolate addiction” reported that 70 of the 72 self-selected “addicts” were
female (Tuomisto et al., 1999) and in another study the 92% of the surveyed sample self-
identified as “chocolate addicts” were female (Hetherington & MacDiarmid, 1993). Wansink
et al. (2003) reported that males preferred more substantial, warm, hearty- meal related
comfort foods such as meat dishes, pizza or pasta, casserole and soup. On the other hand
side it emerged that when women indulged in high-calories sweets like candy or ice cream
often felt guilty afterwards – while men who chose foods other than sweets and snacks,
didn’t (Wansink et al., 2003).
3. Gender differences in nutrients intake
In order to detect any gender-associated trend in nutrients intake, we have analysed the
nutritional profiles estimated at population level within the context of nationwide
individual dietary surveys. We considered the database of dietary intakes of 22 European
Countries, partners of the European and Health Report (ENHR II), the most suitable
source of data on the basis of the number of countries involved and the approach utilized
to collect the indicators (Elmadfa, 2009). Data from this report have been therefore
processed to highlight possible differences between males and females population groups
concerning the percentage contribution to the average daily energy intake by
carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fatty acids, and mean daily intake of minerals and vitamins.
Data were then grouped by nutrients, by gender, country, and age-class and graphically
plotted in order to detect similarities and differences associated to gender. Overall, no
significant differences were observed in the percentage contributions of macronutrients to
the daily energy intake. Minimum and maximum values (ranges) observed in average
per-capita daily intakes in females per each country overlap those of males. These
findings are in agreement with data obtained in previous studies (Flynn et al., 2009 ;
Reynolds at al., 1999). In the European Health and Nutrition report (ENHR II, Elmafda,
2009), solely for carbohydrates were found differences in the percentage of the average
daily energy intake equal or higher than 5% among adults (10% in Estonia, and Lithuania;
9% in Czech Republic; 8% in Austria, Poland, Denmark, and Germany; 7% in Hungary,
Portugal, and Finland; 5% in Latvia; less than 5% resulted in Greece, Sweden, France,
Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Romania, Norway, and Italy), and elderly (10%
United Kingdom and Denmark; 9% Germany; 7% in Hungary and Romania; 5% Poland
and Greece; less than 5% France, Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, and
Italy). The gap is due to the fact that the group of adult and elderly males tends to replace
carbohydrates with alcohol. In two cases, differences higher than 10% were found for fats
among adolescents in Norway (11% males vs. females) and Dutch (19% females vs.
males). Percentage of energy from proteins did not show differences in absolute value
higher than 1%.
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 91
Age class
Mineral Gender min max min max min max min max min Max min max
Male 1,8 3,4 2,2 4,2 2,3 5,0 2,9 6,5 2,6 7,3 2,3 7,0
Female 1,7 3,4 1,9 3,7 2,2 4,8 2,2 4,5 1,7 5,6 1,8 6,0
Δ% 6 0 16 14 5 4 32 44 53 30 28 17
Male 2,0 2,8 1,9 3,0 1,9 4,0 2,4 4,4 2,7 4,4 2,2 3,8
Female 1,9 2,7 1,8 2,9 1,7 4,0 1,2 3,3 2,3 3,6 2,2 3,7
Δ% 5 4 6 3 12 0 100 33 17 22 0 3
Male 604 1103 732 1207 701 1381 806 1447 687 1171 627 1071
Female 606 1024 631 1126 600 1238 645 1040 508 1047 533 959
Δ% 0 8 16 7 17 12 25 39 35 12 18 12
Male 882 1284 960 1455 964 1704 1413 1705 1264 1778 1059 1576
Female 900 1183 851 1295 807 1636 962 1356 1017 1422 959 1404
Δ% -2 9 13 12 19 4 47 26 24 25 10 12
Male 171 267 204 303 200 503 260 467 256 465 221 403
Female 166 267 166 301 181 429 186 369 197 372 179 348
Δ% 3 0 23 1 10 17 40 27 30 25 23 16
Male 7,3 10,6 8,4 11,8 9,2 19,4 10,2 19 10,6 26,9 10 25,2
Female 6,8 10,6 7,7 11,8 7,7 14,8 7,8 14 8,2 22,2 8,5 20,9
Δ% 7 0 9 0 19 31 31 36 29 21 18 21
Male 6,0 9,2 7,0 10,9 7,0 14,6 9,3 15,2 8,6 14,6 7,5 12,3
Female 5,3 8,9 6,4 9,4 6,1 13,9 6,4 11,0 6,7 10,7 6,7 11,2
Δ% 13 3 9 16 15 5 45 38 28 36 12 10
Male 69 223 73 203 102 209 93 221 67 264 107 226
Female 70 198 73 179 85 171 115 182 48 200 97 190
Δ% -1 13 0 13 20 22 -19 21 40 32 10 19
Male 0,7 2,2 0,9 2,8 0,9 2,9 1,2 3,4 1,1 2,3 1,1 1,9
Female 0,7 2,0 0,8 2,6 0,7 2,8 0,8 2,1 0,1 2,2 0,9 1,9
Δ% 0 10 13 8 29 4 50 62 1000 5 22 0
Male 1,4 3,3 1,7 3,7 1,8 4,6 2,5 6,1 2,0 5,0 2,2 4,9
Female 1,3 3,0 2,0 3,0 1,7 4,1 1,9 4,4 2,2 5,0 2,0 5,0
Δ% 8 10 -15 23 6 12 32 39 -9 0 10 -2
Male 23 61 27 41 29 110 39 59 36 73 39 62
Female 24 61 20 50 28 104 30 38 31 54 34 55
Δ% -4 0 35 -18 4 6 30 55 16 35 15 13
Table 1. Minerals ranges of mean daily intake by age-class, and gender calculated starting
from values observed in 22 European Countries (ENHR II partners).
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
Age class
ears 65+ years
Vitamin Gender min max min max min max min max min max min max
Vitamin A-
Male 0,4 1,1 0,4 1,3 0,4 2,4 0,4 1,8 0,5 2,2 0,5 2,5
Female 0,4 1,2 0,4 1,1 0,3 2,3 0,3 1,6 0,5 2,0 0,4 2,3
Δ% 0 -8 0 18 33 4 33 13 0 10 25 9
Male 1,2 3,8 1,6 4,1 1,1 4,8 1,2 4,7 1,4 5,3 1,3 4,8
Female 1,1 3,4 1,6 4,0 1,1 5,2 1,0 4,7 1,4 5,6 1,3 5,0
Δ% 9 12 0 2 0 -8 20 0 0 -5 0 -4
Vitamin D
Male 1,8 5,8 1,5 6,4 1,5 4,8 1,8 7,5 1,6 10,9 0,7 15,0
Female 1,5 6,5 1,5 5,1 1,2 4,5 1,5 7,1 1,2 10,1 0,7 12,9
Δ% 20 -11 0 25 25 7 20 6 33 8 0 16
Vitamin E
Male 5,3 9,8 6,3 11,2 5,9 14,5 6,8 20,8 3,3 17,4 6,3 13,7
Female 5,1 9,8 5,9 13,3 5,6 18,1 6,0 15,5 4,2 16,1 6,7 13,7
Δ% 4 0 7 -16 5 -20 13 34 -21 8 -6 0
Male 0,8 1,4 0,9 1,6 0,9 2,3 1,3 2,3 1,1 2,3 0,9 2,1
Female 0,8 1,3 0,8 1,4 0,8 1,9 1,0 1,9 0,9 2,1 0,9 1,4
Δ% 0 8 13 14 13 21 30 21 22 10 0 50
Male 1,3 2,1 1,2 2,0 1,2 2,9 1,5 2,6 1,4 2,4 1,2 3,2
Female 1,2 1,8 1,1 1,7 1,1 2,8 1,2 2,3 1,2 2,8 1,2 2,6
Δ% 8 17 9 18 9 4 25 13 17 -14 0 23
Male 15,7 24,9 18,7 29,9 8,7 40,4 12,2 43,3 9,2 41,3 8 37,9
Female 14,4 24,6 16,2 26,3 6,9 32,5 7,3 30,5 6,4 30,6 6,7 31,9
Δ% 9 1 15 14 26 24 67 42 44 35 19 19
Vitamin B6
Male 1,3 1,8 1,2 2,5 1,2 2,8 1,5 3,1 1,6 3,5 1,2 3,0
Female 1,0 1,9 1,1 1,9 1,1 2,7 1,2 2,5 1,3 2,1 1,2 2,9
Δ% 30 -5 9 32 9 4 25 24 23 67 0 3
Male 150 256 144 290 149 428 190 365 203 494 139 343
Female 109 199 133 264 140 360 154 298 131 392 121 335
Δ% 38 29 8 10 6 19 23 22 55 26 15 2
Male 2,7 5,3 3,6 5,5 3,2 11,8 4,9 7,5 1,9 9,3 3,1 8,2
Female 2,6 5,0 2,2 5,3 2,2 11,1 3,5 5,2 1,0 8,8 2,5 7,5
Δ% 4 6 64 4 45 6 40 44 90 6 24 9
Vitamin C
Male 60
170 63 172 73 197 71 201 64 153 59 142
Female 61 157 57 172 77 222 67 205 62 153 60 160
Δ% -2 8 11 0 -5 -11 6 -2 3 0 -2 -11
Table 2. Vitamins ranges of mean daily intake by age-class, and gender calculated starting
from values observed in 22 European Countries (ENHR II partners).
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 93
To complete the analysis ranges of average daily intake of minerals and vitamins intake
across the 22 European countries were compared (table 1-2), confirming males having
higher intakes in general, in almost all age-gender groups looking at both the minimum and
the maximum value of intake observed in the 22 countries. Exceptions for minerals (Table 1):
calcium and phosphorus (minimum in 4-6 years old), iodine (minimum in 4-6 and 15-17
years old), manganese (minimum 7-9 years old, 18-64 and maximum in 65+ years old), and
selenium (minimum in 4-6 years old, maximum in 15-17 years old) (Elmadfa, 2009).
Vitamins intake showed higher variability than minerals intake (Table 2). Males had higher
or equal per-capita average daily intakes both for minimum and maximum in all age-gender
groups for niacin, folate, cobalamine, and thiamine only. In all other cases at least one age
group showed either the minimum or the maximum value
The similarities in the percentage of energy provided by macronutrients and the
overlapping of ranges for minerals and vitamins evidenced above indicate that the overall
quality of diet does not differ substantially between males and females in all classes of ages
and throughout Europe. A further remarks concerns dietary fibre, being highly associated
with the mean energy intake, then increasing with the age (Elmadfa, 2009).
Fig. 1. Ranges of per-capita average daily intake (MJ) by age- class and gender
Overall, the level of energy intake was the main difference found when comparing the
average per-capita dietary intakes of males vs. females (Elmadfa, 2009). As expected, men
consume more energy than women (Figure 1), similarly to what is reported in other studies
like a cross-country comparison (Flynn et al. 2009), or a cross-studies analysis (Reynolds et
al. 1999). This difference occurs even though men and women show a similar food volume
consumption (Marti-Henneberg et al. 1999).
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
In other words, the quantity of food does not seem the main component concurring to the
energy intake. The combination of food categories characterizing the diet according to
gender therefore plays a central role in determining the amount of energy consumed.
3.1 Dietary profiles and nutrient intakes
In order to explore more in depth the relation between food consumption and nutrients
intake, we investigated the available literature reporting studies addressing gender specific
dietary profiles. According to Kiefer and co-authors (Kiefer et al., 2005) children,
adolescents and adults males consume more energy, fat, and cholesterol but less
carbohydrates and fibre than females. Fibre intake was found higher in females also in most
studies reported by Reynolds et al. (1999). Data from The National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey (NHANES II) on the US population from 1976-1980, indicate that males
consume more calories and fats than females (Block et al., 1988).
A research conducted in the US (Courtenay, 2000) showed that males of all ages consume
more saturated fat and dietary cholesterol than females. Cholesterol intake of males was
substantially higher that recommended levels, while dietary cholesterol of most females of
all ages fell within the recommended range for classes of age (Courtenay, 2000).
One study (Wardle et al., 2004) showed that gender differences in food consumption do not
always reflect differences in the proportion of energy consumed as fats or fibre intake, but
this might be due to gender difference in alcohol consumption, which is likely to add a
substantial amount of energy as “drink calories”. Once adjusted for energy intake, the
dietary micronutrients profile of women tend to be higher than in men. In general, the diets
of females were more nutrient-dense, with the exception of milk-derived calcium, and also
higher in dietary fibre, phytochemicals, and various micronutrients (Liebman et al., 2003).
Among school children, girls were found to consume much less energy than boys and also
have a reduced micronutrient intakes. Pre-school children did not show significant gender
differences in dietary profiles (Backstrand et al., 1997). These observations corroborate the
importance of differences associated to gender in food choices in determining the quality of
the diet, at individual level.
According to Chung & Hoerr (2005) , women seem more predisposed to meet the minimum
recommended number of servings of fruit. Moreover, men have been shown to consume
less carotenoid-rich foods, such as carrots, spinach, broccoli and other greens than women
(Courtenay, 2000).
In agreement with the study by Chung & Hoerr (2005) and Wardle and co-workers (2004)
showed that women eat more fruit than men. Several studies have reported that in various
western countries women eat more fruits, vegetables, cereals, cereal products, milk, dairy
products and whole grain products than men. On the other hand, the consumption of red
meat, eggs, alcohol, soft drinks, high sucrose food, as well as various high starch foods such
as potatoes and bread is higher in men (Beer-Borst et al., 2000; Fraser et al., 2000; Kiefer,
2005; Prättälä et al., 2007; Wardle, 2004).
The differences associated with gender were similar in all countries, throughout age and
educational groups, and in rural and urban areas (Prättälä et al., 2007). A study on gender
Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies 95
differences in food intake conducted on1556 older people living in Britain (Fraser et al.,
2000), also indicated that women eat more butter, full-fat milk and certain beverages, cakes,
apples, pears and bananas, whereas men consume more eggs, sugar and meat products.
Men also consume more alcoholic drinks, more frequently and in higher amounts than
women (Bates et al., 1999; Fraser et al., 2000;Liebman et al., 2003). Similar trends have been
found in two British national surveys, the Health and Lifestyle Survey (Cox et al., 1993), and
the National Dietary and Nutritional Survey (Gregory et al., 1990) . These observations are
also in agreement with data obtained in studies conducted in the United States (Wirfalt &
Jeffrey, 1997) and Australia (Baghurst et al., 1994). On the whole, the studies reported here
strongly suggest that a higher intake of fruit and vegetables is one of the elements
characterizing women’s dietary profiles.
The results of the present analysis on gender differences in nutrients and foods intake lead
to figure out that fruit and vegetables consumption is a suitable indicator for dietary
characterization. This remark suggests to include this relatively novel quantitative variable
in future population studies as a tool to analyse gender specific eating behaviour. Moreover,
a composite methodological design linking food choice and dietary intake approaches could
help to deepen the knowledge of eating behaviour in the population.
Gender is usually considered in the Nutritional recommendations published by European
countries (Pavlovic et al., 2007), even though a conceptual bias, might occur when scientific
evidences are collected on males and then extrapolated to women (Tarnopolsky, 2003).
Nutritional recommendations at international level are developed by gender and age when
addressing specific nutrient requirements (World Health Organization [WHO] 2010a,
thereafter (WHO, 2010a) whereas this does not occur in the formulation of nutritional goals
for the general population (WHO 2010a, 2010b, 2010c). Further investigations should be
carried out to analyse the appropriateness of including gender specific statements in
internationals nutrition policy guidelines.
4. Conclusions
All reported data are consistent with the view that in modern Western Societies women
generally show a tendency to perform healthier food choices and are much more concerned
about the importance of food choice and eating behaviour to stay in a good physical shape
than men. This attitude is also reflected by dietary profiles in terms food intake pattern,
showed consistent trends according to gender.
In conclusion, the “take home message” extrapolated from this systematic review, in strong
accordance with other recent studies (Berbesque, 2009; Marino et al., 2011), is to stress the
importance of considering a gender specific approach, both in terms of behaviour and of
physiology, when addressing nutrition issues in research and in policy making. As a matter
of fact, a more detailed informative basis would help the formulation of suitable monitoring
programs in the research side, and an increasing effectiveness of policy interventions in
respect of different population groups.
Acknowledgment. The present review was performed within the project PALINGENIO
supported by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy.
Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health
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Public Health - Social and Behavioral Health
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Human behavior accounts for the majority of morbidity and premature mortality throughout the world. This
book explores several areas of human behavior including physical activity, nutrition and food, addictive
substances, gun violence, sexual transmitted diseases and more. Several cutting edge methods are also
examined including empowering nurses, community based participatory research and nature therapy. Less
well known public health topics including human trafficking, tuberculosis control in prisons and public health
issues in the deaf community are also covered. The authors come from around the world to describe issues
that are both of local and worldwide importance to protect and preserve the health of populations. This book
demonstrates the scope and some of the solutions to addressing today's most pressing public health issues.
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Claudia Arganini, Anna Saba, Raffaella Comitato, Fabio Virgili and Aida Turrini (2012). Gender Differences in
Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies, Public Health - Social and Behavioral Health,
Prof. Jay Maddock (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0620-3, InTech, Available from:
... We analyzed the eating behavior according to gender. Literature has highlighted different behaviours: the male gender is associated with the consumption of meat (especially red), alcohol and large portion sizes, while the female gender correlates with higher consumption of vegetables, fruit, fish and acidic dairy products [29]. The results are in keeping with the literature for the consumption of red meat and sausages, consumed most frequently by men (25.6% vs. 11.1% in women) and for the consumption of wine/alcohol, for which a greater percentage of women said they were not a regular consumer than men (73.3% vs. 57.8%). ...
Objective To evaluate lifestyle and risk factors playing a role in increasing the burden of cardiovascular diseases and to increase attention of clinicians who should envision a broader preconception approach in ART, not only in women but also in men. Study Design: In this cross-sectional study we investigated 90 Caucasian couples, referred to the Internal Medicine Clinic at the Assisted Reproductive Technology Centre, in order to better define in preconceptional period their cardiovascular risk profile, based on metabolic parameters and lifestyle behaviours. Results We observed two-fold increase of overweight in men in comparison to women (p=0.006). Values of waist ≥94 cm in men and ≥80 cm in women were present in 53.3% of men and 32.2% of women (p=0.007). Similarly, values of WHR according to gender cut-off, were present in 64.4% of men and in 32.2% of women (p<0.0001). In men we observed a significantly higher prevalence of hypertension (p=0.02), significantly lower HDL-c (p=0.001) and higher levels of total cholesterol (p=0.01), LDL-c and triglycerides (p=0.001). Sedentary behaviour was observed in about 60% of both genders. Alcohol consumption was reported by 42.2% of men and 26.7% of women (p=0.04) and smokers were more prevalent among women (26.7%) than men (24.4%). We observed a lower adherence to Mediterranean Diet related to consumption of red meat and meat products (p=0.02), as well as of legumes consumption (p=0.01) in men, whereas sweet/pastries (p=0.05) and fruits (p=0.06) in women. Men and women with normal BMI, waist and WHR, showed a higher Mediterranean diet adherence in comparison to overweight/obese study population(p<0.001). Finally, higher education level predicted the higher Mediterranean diet adherence in both gender (p=0.01 for men, p=0.03 for women). Conclusions This study paid attention on preconceptional health in couples planning ART. Women have a greater biological role in childbearing, whereas the role of men is underestimated. The need to conceive through ART offers a window of opportunity not only to evaluate cardiovascular profile and lifestyle factors in couples prior to conception, but also to manage comorbidities and promote health behaviours in order to improve fertility and health outcomes in both women and men at short and long-term.
... Additional determinants for increased salty snack frequency consumption in our study were younger age which indicates that younger students can be less prone to the health-conscious eating behavior. The correlation between snacking and gender in our study was not significant and mixed results are available from previous studies [1], although in some of them it was observed that women are often better informed about nutrition and are more inclined to making healthier food choices [30]. ...
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This study investigated the behavior of urban-living students related to the salty snacks consumption, and their contribution to salt daily intake. A cross-sectional survey on 1313 urban-living students (16–25 years, 61.4% university students and 38.6% high school students) used a pre-verified questionnaire created specifically for the study. The logistic regression analysis was performed to investigate the factors influencing snack consumption. The results of salt content and the snack consumption frequency were used to evaluate snack contribution to salt intake. All subjects consumed salty snacks, on average several times per week, more often at home and slightly more during periods of intensive studying, with 42% of the participants reporting to consume two or more packages per snacking occasion. Most of the participants consumed such products between main meals, but 10% of them took snacks immediately after the main meal. More high-school students than university students were in the “high snack group” (p < 0.05). The most frequently consumed salty snacks were those with the highest content of salt. Salt intake from snack products for a majority of participants ranged between 0.4 and 1 g/day. The research revealed younger age, home environment and significant contribution to salt intake as critical points in salty snack consumption among urban-living students important for the better understanding of their dietary habits.
... Food choice is dependent on a wide spectrum of factors, which affect human behavior in different ways, resulting alternatively in the choice of some specific products and in the rejection of others [19]. Therefore; this study indicated that majority of male and female students; state they were depended on a variety of foods through their daily life. ...
Conference Paper
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Abstract: Background: University student may make poor food choices which may affect their health and this may continue their life. Therefore eating changes lack of physical activity and sedentary live have significantly contributed to the increase of various diseases , mainly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity. Objective: This study aims to identify some eating practices and to find out any gender differences in food habits among a sample of paramedical students. Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at the institute of medical technology/ Baquba for 200 student selected randomly from three medical departments (Nursing, Community health and Pathological analysis). This study was based distributing a questionnaire containing some information as student’s age, gender, weight and height and some selected close ended questions related to students food practices and habits. The questionnaire was was distributed during break between lectures and students asked to participate in the study voluntarily and then collected immediately after being completed by the students at the end of the research, data analyzed using SPSS version 16.0. Variales were presented as number and percent. Chi-square test was used for comparison between groups. P ≤ 0.05 was considered significant. Results: For both gender of the students, this study showed that two thirds (66%) of students were taking breakfast per day. Majority of the students (77%) were not drinking carbonated beverages daily. More than two thirds (69%) were eating fast foods inside the University campus every day. Higher percentage of male students (52.8%) were drinking water in an amount 2 letters or more per day as compared to female students. The higher percentage of them (66%) were drinking water in an amount less than 2 liters per day. And the result of the study indicated a highly significant difference between amount of consumed water per day on student's gender. The present study revealed that the higher percentage of male students (50.9%) reported taking three meals per day. As compared to female students, the higher percentage (48.9%) reported taking less than 3 meals per day, and there was a significant difference between meal frequency and student's gender. Conclusion: This study concluded that majority of students had healthy food practices presented in the item of eating breakfast and not drinking carbonated beverages per day. While most of risky food practices were presented in item of eating fast foods daily. Significantly food habits presented in drinking water and frequency of foods meals among male students were better than female students. Recommendations: Undergraduates should be educated about healthy eating practices and habits in order to prevent risk of obesity an underweight consequences in future.
... Specifically, our results showed a higher risk of obesity for males. Previous researchers have pointed out that males give a higher priority to taste and convenience and feel more ambivalent about healthy dietary choices (49) . This population group presents a complex pattern of socio-economic inequalities in obesity, especially in middle-income countries (45) . ...
Objective The present study aimed to identify nutrition transition (NT) profiles in Argentina (2005–2013) and assess their association with obesity in the adult population. Design A large cross-sectional study was performed considering data sets of nationally representative surveys. A multiple correspondence analysis coupled with hierarchical clustering was conducted to detect geographical clusters of association among sociodemographic and NT indicators. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to assess the effect of NT profile (proxy variable of contextual order) on obesity occurrence. Setting First, we used geographically aggregated data about the adult and child populations in Argentina. Second, we defined the population of adults who participated in the National Survey of Chronic Disease Risk Factors (2013) as the study population. Participants Twenty-four geographical units that make up the territory of Argentina and 32 365 individuals over 18 years old living in towns of at least 5000 people. Results Three NT profiles were identified: ‘Socionutritional lag’ (characterized by undernutrition and socio-economically disadvantaged conditions; profile 1); ‘Double burden of malnutrition’ (undernutrition and overweight in highly urbanized scenarios; profile 2); and ‘Incipient socionutritional improvement’ (low prevalence of malnutrition and more favourable poverty indicator values; profile 3). Profiles 1 and 2 were significantly associated (OR; 95 % CI) with a higher risk of obesity occurrence in adults (1·17; 1·02, 1·32 and 1·44; 1·26, 1·64, respectively) compared with profile 3. Conclusions Argentina is facing different NT processes, where sociodemographic factors play a major role in shaping diverse NT profiles. Most of the identified profiles were linked to obesity burden in adults.
... Some media have also begun to abandon inculcated gender roles in favor of a more fluid (Monllos, 2016) and unstereotyped (Beaudoux, 2017) representation although gender differentiations exist in the way boys and girls represent themselves, including in the social media (Herring & Kapidzic, 2015). Within these changing trends, food marketing continues to "do gender" (Sobal, 2005) by favoring meat, especially red meat, as an archetypical masculine food, and fruits, vegetables and sweets as typical feminine choices (Wardle, Haase, Steptoe, Nillapun, Jonwutiwes, & Bellisie, 2004;Sobal, 2005, Nath, 2010Arganini, Saba, Comitato, Virgili, & Turrini, 2012;Rozin, Hormes, Faith, & Wansink, 2012;Rothgerber, 2013;Vartanian 2015;Wong, 2017;. ...
Traditional hegemonic masculinity can be traced on the typical man’s plate where meat represents the centerpiece. Meat consumption dominates the current marketing discourse which builds on masculinity to reinforce the stereotyped gender-based diets. In light of scientific evidence about the detrimental impacts of meat consumption on human wellbeing and environmental health, this chapter argues that men are at the crossroads where the concept of masculinity is being redefined. Their social role is similarly changing with new expectations for more sustainable diets which call for plant-based food choices and possibly lab-grown meat. Some men are endorsing these imperatives while others continue to succumb to social inertia. A new marketing discourse is needed which reconciles masculinity with not eating meat and encourages a transition to alternative dietary choices that are better for personal health, allow improved use of the planet’s resources, and have less impact on climate change.
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Objective Hermeneutics is a qualitative method that focuses on few sequences of texts, which helps understand single cases. It is used to explore how consumers cope with the contradiction between their enjoyment for meat and their empathy for animals without using frameworks drafted by social scientists. Five cases are analysed, which range from strong references towards the societal norm of meat eating to a feeling of uncertainty in the face of the animals’ death. None of the cases, however, sees the necessity to find a rationale for their own meat consumption. The study concludes by raising the question about the persistence of a societal consensus for meat consumption.
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Purpose In the general population, poor sleep quality and short sleep duration are associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC), and an unhealthy diet. The aim of this study was to assess if the association between sleep quality and duration and BMI, WC, and diet quality also exists among colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors, as many CRC survivors have an unhealthy weight and diet. Methods Cross-sectional data from a longitudinal CRC cohort were used. In this study, survivors were 4–13 years post diagnosis. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to assess both sleep quality and sleep duration. Diet quality was assessed by scoring adherence (low, moderate, high) to the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) recommendations of five food groups and nutrients: fruit and vegetables, dietary fiber, red and processed meat, alcoholic beverages, and sugary drinks, using a brief diet screener. BMI and WC were self-measured. Associations were analyzed by multivariable linear and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Results Among 1002 CRC survivors, 23% reported poor sleep quality (PSQI score ≥ 8) and 24% reported short sleep duration (≤ 6 h). No associations between sleep and BMI, WC, and diet quality were found. Conclusion Sleep problems are common in long-term CRC survivors; however, sleep quality and duration was not associated with BMI, WC, and diet quality in this population. It is unknown why the results differ from findings in the general population.
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The culturally embedded habitus forms esthetic sensibilities; that is, the culture of a specific community group is internalized through the process of socialization. Habitus extends to our sense of taste for cultural objects such as art, food, and clothing. In a traditional society like in India, the family is an institution with norms and values attached to it. Furthermore, it is a woman who usually cooks in a traditional society. Therefore, the sociocultural belief system and customs play a crucial role in shaping dietary practices. Hence, discussing the choices and decisions that women make related to food could unravel the gender dimensions. Exploring the dynamics of gender could help policymakers, legislators, and other stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach to amalgamate the element of inclusivity while framing the schemes and policies related to food security. The present study has used the QDA Miner Lite software for the grounded theory approach to conclude that women are the center of food choices. Moreover, food selection depends upon religious inclinations, the belief system, relative position and status in society, cultural traditions and customary laws, etc.
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Background: The association between frequency of meals and snacks and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is less studied in Middle-Eastern countries. Aim: We aimed to determine the relationship between meal and snack frequency with GERD symptoms in a large sample of Iranian adults. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 4669 individuals filled out a questionnaire about their number of meals and snacks. Frequency of total meals was defined by summing up the frequency of main meals and snacks, and participants were categorized into four categories: < 3, 3-5, 6-7 and ≥ 8 meals/day. GERD was defined as having heartburn sometimes or more during the last 3 months. The severity of disease was assessed. Results: The prevalence of GERD in the study population was 23.7%. There was no significant association between meal or snack frequency and GERD symptoms in the whole population. However, after adjustment of all potential confounders, we found that women who consumed 1-2 or 3-5 snacks per day, compared with those who never had snacks, had a 41% (OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.42-0.84) and 51% (OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.32-0.75) reduced risk of having GERD, respectively. Women who consumed 6-7 or ≥ 8 snacks and meals per day had a 38% (OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.41-0.96) and 43% (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.34-0.95) risk reduction for GERD compared with those who ate < 3 snacks and meals per day. Conclusion: We found no significant association between meal frequency and GERD symptoms in the whole population. Gender-specific analysis revealed inverse associations between meal and snack frequency and GERD in Iranian women. Further prospective studies are required to confirm these associations.
Background: Prospective data relating fruit and vegetable intake to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk are sparse, particularly for women. Objective: In a large, prospective cohort of women, we examined the hypothesis that higher fruit and vegetable intake reduces CVD risk. Design: In 1993 we assessed fruit and vegetable intake among 39876 female health professionals with no previous history of CVD or cancer by use of a detailed food-frequency questionnaire. We subsequently followed these women for an average of 5 y for incidence of nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, coronary artery bypass graft, or death due to CVD. Results: During 195647 person-years of follow-up, we documented 418 incident cases of CVD including 126 MIs. After adjustment for age, randomized treatment status, and smoking, we observed a significant inverse association between fruit and vegetable intake and CVD risk. For increasing quintiles of total fruit and vegetable intake (median servings/d: 2. 6, 4.1, 5.5, 7.1, and 10.2), the corresponding relative risks (RRs) were 1.0 (reference), 0.78, 0.72, 0.68, and 0.68 (95% CI comparing the 2 extreme quintiles: 0.51, 0.92; P: for trend = 0.01). An inverse, though not statistically significant, trend remained after additional adjustment for other known CVD risk factors, with RRs of 1.0, 0.75, 0.83, 0.80, and 0.85 (95% CI for extreme quintiles: 0.61, 1.17). After excluding participants with a self-reported history of diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol at baseline, the multivariate-adjusted RR was 0.45 when extreme quintiles were compared (95% CI: 0.22, 0.91; P: for trend = 0.09). Higher fruit and vegetable intake was also associated with a lower risk of MI, with an adjusted RR of 0.62 for extreme quintiles (95% CI: 0.37, 1.04; P: for trend = 0.07). Conclusion: These data suggest that higher intake of fruit and vegetables may be protective against CVD and support current dietary guidelines to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
This paper describes a nutrition knowledge survey carried out on a cross-section of the adult population of England (n = 1040), looking at knowledge relating to current dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, healthy food choices and diet-disease links. Serious gaps in knowledge about even the basic recommendations were discovered, and there was much confusion over the relationship between diet and disease. Significant differences in knowledge between socio-demographic groups were found, with men having poorer knowledge than women, and knowledge declining with lower educational level and socio-economic status. Possible reasons for these differences and implications for public education campaigns and socio-economic inequalities in health are discussed.
Introduction - significance and theoretical orientations the development of culinary cultures ethnological food research nutritional trends beliefs and practices about food and health - the lay perspective eating disorders patterns of food consumption shortage and plenty food technology and its impact the impact on food of colonialism and migration the public sphere - professional cooks and eating outside the home domestic cookery, home economics and girls' education food in the division of labour at home food in total institutions conclusion - commensality and society.
THIS study aimed to determine the level of knowl edge in the general population concerning dietary fat and the risk of coronary heart disease. A systematic sample of 400 was selected from the electoral regis ters of Southampton. Subjects were sent a self-com pletion questionnaire. The response rate was 68% (255). Overall knowledge levels were high. There were some specific gaps in knowledge concerning the polyunsaturated fat content of fish; the fat con tent of butter, margarine and low-fat spreads; and the relationship of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat to plasma cholesterol and heart disease. The media seemed to be the most important source of this health information. Since overall knowledge levels were high we conclude that health education should concentrate on clarifying areas of misunder standing shown by this study.
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This article examines knowledge from consumer behavior theory, research and methods that has contributed to nutrition education for promoting healthful food choices among adult consumers. Three content areas are reviewed: nutrition labeling, consumer shopping behavior, and point of choice nutrition interventions. The research clearly shows that many consumers want nutrition information, but that they often do not employ it because it is hard to use, not readily available, or not perceived as useful or new. Food shoppers have been found to consider nutrition as only one of several factors influencing purchases. Point of choice nutrition interventions in restaurants and supermarkets can be effective when they use highly visible and targeted messages. Consumer Information Processing and Social Learning Theory are helpful frameworks for future research and practice. Also, there is a need for the methods traditionally used in consumer behavior research to be better integrated into community nutrition education studies, in order to achieve and demonstrate the effectiveness of nutrition interventions and their successful application in settings where consumers select food.