A simple glance inside a grocery store and one realizes just how extensively the kinds of diets and foodstuffs vary across the board. As a family loads their shopping trolley with vegetables and fruits, another person loads up on junk food. While one person prefers to buy meat, the other chooses to purchase vegan products. Any form of diet choice an individual makes is considered as much subconscious as it is sentient. There are many factors that affect an individual’s dietary choice. Therefore, diet choice is considered to be a complex area due to the numerous factors that influence it. The paper shall highlight the different factors that affect an individual’s choice of food. The paper has subdivided the dietary determinants to six categories which are social, biological, economic, physical, psychological, and personal attitudes (Doenges et al, 2010).
Under this domain, the facets that attribute to the social determinants are culture, social context, and social class. With regard to the socioeconomic/social class facet, the principle is that there exists variances in food choices in diverse social classes thus leading to either over nutrition or under nutrition. An example of this principle is that individuals belonging in a higher social class have healthier nutritional diets as compared to their counterparts in the lower social class. The rationale behind the aforementioned statement is that people belonging to high socioeconomic groups are well educated thus being more health conscious and live healthier lives. Variance in socioeconomic status is the prime reason behind health inequalities in the society.
An individual’s culture plays a crucial role in one’s food preparation and dietary choices. Evidence adduced by different researchers reveals that peoples’ traditional beliefs and values highly influence individuals’ preference, nutritional status, and mode of preparing food. However, an individual’s cultural habit is subject to change since migration from one region to another interferes with his/her cultural habits thus leading to the adoption of new food habits from the new local culture. A good example would be the migration of a South Asian female, to Scotland. Such an individual will exhibit an increase in body mass since the local culture practices heightened intake of fatty foods. The South Asian female will be susceptible to cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Much focus on the social determinants which impact diet choices shifts to the social context. Social context refers to either the people who may impact one’s eating habits or the surroundings of the individual under which he/she takes their dietary selection. Other individuals may directly or indirect influence a person’s dietary choice. One’s dietary choice may be affected directly if another person purchases the food on behalf of another. Indirect interference may sprout from learning from a peer’s tendencies either consciously or subconsciously. Social aid which is in form of families can also affect an individual’s diet choice through constant support and encouragement of healthy consuming practices (Rolfes et al, 2012). Under the aforementioned circumstance, the household can have a set timetable for food consumption that affects one eating habits since there is limited availability of food options.
The factors under this facet are appetite, hunger, and taste. According to the principles of nutrition, it is considered that every human being requires sufficient nutrients and energy in order to survive. Any form of deprivation of the aforementioned substances forces the human to respond with hunger and satiety. In the human body, altered macronutrients have different impact on satiety. For example, fat is considered to be the least satiating. The other facet under biological determinants is taste. The degree of taste/palatability in an individual increases with the status of pleasure the individual experiences from ingesting the food. A person’s palatability in food is influenced by smell, taste, texture, and appearance. A suitable example would be that sweeter foods possess a higher palatability since they have higher sensory appeal than other food stuffs; hence, an individual gets pleasure from eating them other than it being a spring of nutrients and energy. Conclusively, the higher the palatability a food has the higher the rate of its consumption (Edelstein, 2011).
The principal determinants in this category reveal themselves through the relative price of food and one’s ability to meet the expenses of particular foods. Individuals belonging to lower socioeconomic groups consume unbalanced diets and have low consumptions of vegetables and fruits. Even though this is the case, it does not necessarily mean that increasing the socioeconomic status guarantees healthy and nutritious intake of food.
Accessibility and availability of food stuff acts as a physical determinant to an individual’s diet choice. A person’s diet choice may be influenced by the accessibility of shops/groceries and the availability of certain foods in these places. This determinant is linked to geographical locations and transport links. An example would be of areas regarded as ‘food deserts’. Such areas have limited or no shopping facilities which may adversely affect an individual’s diet choice (McGuire & Beerman, 2011).
The media plays a crucial role in an individual’s diet choice since it can either educate the individual on healthy eating or deceive him/her into an unhealthy diet. The media can be used to educate people on nutritional eating thus helping them to adapt healthy dietary adoptions. Through the media, the message is passed accurately and consistently. Alternatively, the media can also give bad eating habits. The media can post advertisements of junk foods which will most likely influence the audience to try it out thus giving an unhealthy dietary choice.
Stress is a potential determinant of an individual’s dietary choice. Heightened levels of stress in an individual may trigger drastic changes in his/her tendencies which affect one’s eating habits. The impact of stress on an individual’s dietary choice varies from one person to the next. The rationale behind the above statement is that some people may practice unhealthy binge eating when stressed while others simply have a less intake of food.
Additionally, food has the ability to transform one’s mood and temperament, thereby influencing his/her diet choice. An exemplary case would be women in their premenstrual phase; such individuals have a high food craving. The connection with food for dieters signifies that she will end up having guilt after taking so much food. Due to the aforementioned fact, the individual restricts intake of food thus heightening the desire for food.
Currently, nutrient deficiency diseases have led to energy disproportions, and relations between diet and chronic disease are becoming evident. Transitions regarding epidemiologic and nutrition changes proposes an immediate emphasis on precautionary tactics in healthcare. Therefore, nutrition has shifted its focal point from eradicating nutrient deficiencies to stressing the prevention of chronic diseases. There are continuing efforts of promoting long-term health through the concept of health dietary choices. It is therefore justifiable to state that the adoption of a healthy lifestyle guarantees long-term health.
Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2010). Nursing care plans: Guidelines for individualizing client care across the life span. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co.
Edelstein, S. (2011). Nutrition in public health: A handbook for developing programs and services. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
McGuire, M., & Beerman, K. A. (2011). Nutritional sciences: From fundamentals to food. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Rolfes, S. R., Pinna, K., & Whitney, E. N. (2012). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
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