Healthy eaters beat unhealthy eaters in prototype evaluation among men, but abstinence may pose a risk for social standing

Marja Kinnunen, Nelli Hankonen, Ari Haukkala, Britta Renner, Piia Jallinoja, Clarissa M. L. Bingham, Pilvikki Absetz
2015 Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine  
Absetz (2015) Healthy eaters beat unhealthy eaters in prototype evaluation among men, but abstinence may pose a risk for social standing, Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 3:1, 323-336, Although previous studies have shown that unhealthy eating is associated with a positive image of a typical unhealthy eating peer (prototype), their focus on prototypes is typically narrow/ limited. The present study addresses this gap in the literature and investigates two aspects in peer evaluations:
more » ... 1) healthy vs. unhealthy and (2) abstainer vs. chooser. Moreover, their mean differences, interrelationships and associations with eating behavior will be examined. Methods: Men in military service (N = 1824, Age M = 19.8) reported their eating behaviors and evaluated either (a) Vegetable chooser and Vegetable abstainer prototypes (N = 920) or b) Fat chooser and Fat abstainer prototypes (N = 904) on a scale containing 17 antonyms. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses suggested a three-factor structure: Selfregulation, Social standing in peer group and Appearance (Comparative Fit Indexes 0.82-0.87; Tucker-Lewis index 0.78-0.84; Root Mean Square Error of Approximation 0.07-0.08). Results: Healthy eaters (i.e. Vegetable chooser and Fat abstainer) were evaluated higher on Self-regulation and Appearance than respective unhealthy eaters (i.e. Vegetable abstainer and Fat chooser) (ps < .001). However, Fat abstainer was rated lower than Fat chooser on Social standing in peer group (p < .001). Neither Fat chooser nor Fat abstainer prototype was associated with fatty food consumption. Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with higher Self-regulation ratings for Vegetable chooser (β = .10, p < .01) and lower Self-regulation ratings (β = −.13, p < .001) and Appearance ratings (β = −.08, p < .05) for Vegetable abstainer. Conclusions: Among young men, healthy eating peers are evaluated as more self-regulative and better looking than unhealthy eating peers. Rating healthy eaters more positively is related to higher fruit and vegetable consumption. Prototypes play a role in young men's eating behavior, although the role differs for vegetables and fatty foods. Interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption should consider addressing the vegetable eater prototype.
doi:10.1080/21642850.2015.1095097 fatcat:7jn6ppyayffwjozizlwjvhczbu