It has long been known in various cultures that women, on the whole, tend to eat more fruit and vegetables than men, and previously, studies really couldn’t show why males preferred to consume more foodstuffs such as meat, potatoes and junk food. A new study shows that it may show why men have an aversion to leafy greens and fruity goodness: they have less favourable attitudes towards healthy eating and claim to have less self-control when it comes to snacking and meal-times.
According to study researcher John A. Updegraff, who is an associate professor of social and health psychology at Ohio’s Kent State University, this attitude of men towards healthier food options can be considered a “planned behavior theory”.
“Men don’t believe as strongly as women that fruit and vegetable consumption is an important part of maintaining health. Men feel less confident in their ability to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, especially when they are at work or in front of the television,” he said.
“It’s important to help men understand the importance of a healthy diet, as well as to develop confidence in their ability to make those healthy choices, whether it be at work or at home.”
The “planned behaviour theory” examines the connection between what people believe and how people behave. In the study, three core factors were looked at: people’s attitudes towards fruit and vegetables, people’s feelings of control over their diet, and “peer pressure” from friends and family to consume a healthier diet. The results showed that while men don’t believe that fruit and vegetables can make a person healthier, they will consume more if they are shown a variety of options and if they are taught to plan ahead and take control of their diet. “Peer pressure”, on the other hand, didn’t make any difference in consumption rates.