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 Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>