Social Influence on Diet and Body Weight

The way we eat is determined by our social influences. Both childhood and adult obesity rates are at all-time high levels. Along with obesity comes the onset of almost-completely preventable diseases like diabetes, cancer, stroke, atherosclerosis, heart disease and many more. Let’s examine some of the more prevalent social influences that are causing us to become more and more unhealthy.

Family-based Influences on Diet

  • Parental choices play a very large role in the development of poor diets within families. If parents never learnt to choose healthy food sources, then, quite naturally, their children will not either.
  • Too many parents today do not take the time necessary to plan and prepare nutritious meals at home. Moreover, children are often permitted to choose what they eat.
  • In many homes, children are allowed to have access to the food supply at will. Again, eating times should be planned for children. If they have no access to foods, then they cannot develop improper eating habits.
  • Attention needs to be given to the proper portion sizes for children. Particularly in the US, people have a tendency to eat far more than they need to. Children will learn to eat more than they need to if food is piled on their plates.

Societal Influences of Eating Habits

  • Time constraints affect us all. However, there is still enough time in life to plan and prepare healthy foods. Everyone is capable of watching just a little less TV, or surfing the Internet just a bit less in order to cook something healthy to eat.
  • Our ethnicity also affects our eating habits. Sometimes we tend to eat certain foods because of tradition. However, nutrient-packed, low-fat foods are good for all humans – regardless of their heritage.
  • Eating socially important – when we take the time to sit down together and enjoy our meals, we tend to watch what we are eating more carefully and take time to digest our food. Too often, families or people sit in front of the television and pay little attention to how fast they eat or what they eat.

Other Factors that Influence Our Eating Habits

  • Eating is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Almost every social event is in part based on eating. Family reunions, wedding receptions, church gatherings, dating, festivals and more all have a central theme of food.
  • We eat to express and accept appreciation. If someone is being honored, a feast is prepared in their name.
  • Holiday celebrations are centered heavily around food. In fact, it has become expected to eat huge quantities during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Many people feel that they eat non-nutritious foods due to budget restraints. However, if people plan and prepare their meals at home, eating within their budget and eating healthily is possible. It costs no more to cook a nutritious meal than it does to take the family out to McDonald’s.

Of course, there are many ways to enjoy the foods that we eat as well. However, we can do so by becoming more aware of the importance of healthy food choices – and of the manner in which we eat. By becoming aware of the various influences on our eating habits, we empower ourselves to modify them in order to live healthier, longer lives.

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