Peer Pressure Affects Women’s Food Choices

October 9, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. fondness /ˈfɒnd nɪs/ (n.) – attraction to or liking for someone or something
Example: I have a great fondness for eating oil-based pastas.

2. epicurean /ˌɛpɪkyʊˈriən, -ˈkyʊəri-/ (adj.) – having luxurious taste or habit in dining
Example: The waiter served a delicious epicurean cuisine that we really enjoyed.

3. shun /ʃʌn/ (v.) – to keep away habitually from something or someone
Example: My friend shuns eating out at expensive restaurants and prefers dining at home.

4. skirt /skɜrt/ (v.) – to keep away from something
Example: My mom skirted the persistent man who is offering her a new credit card.

5. avoidance /əˈvɔɪdns/ (n.) – keeping away from or preventing something
Example: She became sick because of her constant avoidance of healthy food.


Read the text below.
A study from Cornell University suggests that women’s choice for food can be influenced by their peers.

The researchers interviewed 1,008 mothers regarding their attitudes toward food selection and examined their fondness for high fructose corn syrup. They discovered that women who seek social approval often choose or avoid products as a social display to express self or group identity.

Aner Tal, the study’s co-author, said that the choice or avoidance of certain products based on the need for social approval is known as the Prius Effect.

The team looked into how the Prius Effect influenced the participants’ behavior toward certain food products. Researchers found that mothers who gave in to the epicurean influence of their peers are more likely to have a negative impression on certain ingredients.

Moreover, the researchers also found that those who shunned high fructose corn syrup strongly believed that the ingredient was difficult to digest, could cause headaches, harm the skin, and could be dangerous for children. This negative perception toward certain food products worsened when the food was less nutritious.

Nonetheless, changing the women’s perspectives was quite simple. The team changed the label of the product from high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar” or “table sugar.” They figured out that women were less likely to skirt the product.

The study also revealed that women can be more interested in the ingredients once they learn about the product’s background information.

Brian Wansink, the study’s lead author and director of Food and Brand Lab, believes that to overcome food or ingredient fears and avoidance, one must learn the science and process of the ingredient manufacturing. Proper knowledge about processed food can make one a smarter and practical consumer.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that most women are easily influenced by their peers when it comes to food choices? Why or why not?
·         Why should it be important to know the background information of food products?

Discussion B

·         How can peer pressure affect one’s choices?
·         What can we do to avoid making decisions out of peer pressure? Kindly explain.

October 9, 2014