Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Beliefs About Causes of Obesity May Impact Weight, Eating Behavior

19.06.2013
Whether a person believes obesity is caused by overeating or by a lack of exercise predicts his or her actual body mass, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Obesity has become a pressing public health issue in recent years, with two-thirds of U.S. adults classified as overweight or obese and similar trends unfolding in many developed nations. Researchers Brent McFerran of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and Anirban Mukhopadhyay of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology wondered whether individual beliefs might play a role in these trends.

From an initial online survey, they discovered that people seem to subscribe to one of two major beliefs about the primary cause of obesity:

“There was a clear demarcation,” says McFerran. “Some people overwhelmingly implicated poor diet, and a roughly equal number implicated lack of exercise. Genetics, to our surprise, was a far distant third.”

McFerran and Mukhopadhyay wanted to dig deeper to see if the pattern could be replicated and, if so, what implications it might have for behavior. They conducted a series of studies across five countries on three continents.

Data from participants in Korea, the United States, and France showed the same overall pattern: Not only did people tend to implicate diet or exercise as the leading cause of obesity, people who implicated diet as the primary cause of obesity actually had lower BMIs than those who implicated lack of exercise.

“What surprised me the most was the fact that we found lay theories to have an effect on BMI over and above other known factors, such as socio-economic status, age, education, various medical conditions, and sleep habits,” says McFerran.

The researchers hypothesized that the link between people’s beliefs and their BMI might have to do with how much they eat.

A study with Canadian participants revealed that participants who linked obesity to lack of exercise ate significantly more chocolates than those who linked obesity to diet. And a study with participants in Hong Kong showed that participants who were primed to think about the importance of exercise ate more chocolate than those primed to contemplate diet.

These findings provide evidence that our everyday beliefs about obesity may actually influence our eating habits — and our body mass.

According to Mukhopadhyay, this is “the first research that has drawn a link between people’s beliefs and the obesity crisis, which is growing as fast as people’s waistlines are.”

The new findings suggest that, in order to be effective, public health campaigns may need to target people’s beliefs just as much as they target their behaviors.

This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Hong Kong Research Grants Council Grant CERG 642810.

For more information about this study, please contact: Brent McFerran at mcferran@umich.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Lay Theories of Obesity Predict Actual Body Mass" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or amikulak@psychologicalscience.org.

Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>