Healthy eaters beat unhealthy eaters in prototype evaluation among men, but abstinence may pose a risk for social standing
Kinnunen, Marja; Hankonen, Nelli; Haukkala, Ari; Renner, Britta; Jallinoja, Pia; Bingham, Clarissa; Absetz, Pilvikki (2015)
Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine 3 1
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
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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: (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: Self-regulation, 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.
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