Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Recently I read two articles on the eating habits of women and men. Recent studies have found that women and men have different eating habits and secondly, a women who is dining with a guy will choose food with fewer calories than if she was dining with a woman.
On the first point of different eating habits, 14,000 American adults participated in a study over an eleven month period conducted to determine eating habits, including high risk foods that may cause foodborne illness. This study, reported in Science Daily, March 21, 2008, found that men are more likely to eat meat and poultry, especially duck, veal and ham along with shrimp and oysters; and women are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and apples. Women also preferred almonds, walnuts, eggs and yogurt. The researchers also looked foods considered more riskier - undercooked hamburger and egg, raw oysters, unpasteurized milk and cheese, and alfalfa sprouts. Men were more likely to eat undercooked hamburger and runny eggs and women were more likely to eat alfalfa sprouts. Why researchers considered these results important is because public health officials can target food safety strategies based on gender. I would consider this useful information if public health officials want to target their campaigns for food safety. I haven't noticed food safety campaigns being gender targeted in Canada. I didn't find the overall food preference results surprising at all. We can all think about the food groups our fathers, brothers, cousins, friends, boyfriends and husbands prefer. Meat, more meat, pasta and potatoes. Think of the hungry man commercials for Campbell's soup. These commercials appeal to men, not women. When you see advertisements in magazines or on the television for yogurt, berries, high fibre cereal bars or almonds, who is being targeted and what gender is the model? Food companies understand the food preference differences between men and women.
The second study deals with different food choices being made based on whether you are dining with a man or women. Women eating in the company of women will eat more calories as compared to eating in the company of men. The Canadian research was done at three large university cafeterias (Science Daily, August 10, 2009). I believe conducting the research at a university helps explain these differences. What the research didn't acknowledge is that a women who is trying to impress a guy will eat less. There is no way a women in her early twenties or really at any age will want to eat more than the fellow she is eating with, especially if they are just in the early stages of dating. She might eat like a bird in his presence and then make up her missed calories sometime later that day. This woman won't show her true eating style until she is more comfortable in their relationship. The other interesting thing about this study was that it was published in an international journal called 'Appetite'. I am amazed at times on the number and variety of science publications.

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