The relation between the ideal of beauty of Mexican VW-employees and healthy and unhealthy food consumption

Matthiessen, J.M. (2010) The relation between the ideal of beauty of Mexican VW-employees and healthy and unhealthy food consumption.

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Abstract:The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Mexico is pretty high. The explorative investigation in focus deals with the explanation of this fact by dint of the Prototype/Willingness Model. The PWM suggests that people hold images of the type of person who engages in a particular behavior and that their attitudes and propensity toward the behavior reflect the favorability of this prototype, and subsequent own behavior. It deals especially with unconsciuos risk- decision making and makes use of the social comparison theory, as the own similarity to a given prototype and the attractivity of it shapes the behavioral willingness to engage in that particular behavior. I developed a questionnaire about unhealthy and healthy food consumption and the underlying prototypes of such a behavior that people have in mind. In April 2009 the questionnaire was send to all Volkswagen employees in Puebla, Mexico. In total 251 people participated in my study, with 188 being men and 57 women. According to western research results and literature review I formulated some of the following hypothesis: 1.Mexicans hold distinct images of typical un/healthy eaters, and ascribe fewer positive traits and more negative traits to an unhealthy prototype. 2.The evaluation of un/healthy prototypes is determined by the gender of the participant. 3.The PWM has different effects on men and women. 4.The unhealthy prototype have stronger influence on behavior than the healthy eater image. 5.The evaluation of the two prototypes have explanatory power of subsequent behavior (unhealthy food consumption, weight-loss- dieting, and exercise behavior). 6.The behavior in turn have explanatory power of body-mass-index. All survey data were coded and entered for statistical computer analysis, and to examine the hypothsized effects of the PWM a series of hierarchical regression analysis were carried out by dint of SPSS 16. Behalve the last hypothesis which was only partially accepted, namely for weigth-loss-dieting by men, all the above mentioned hypothesis could be corroborated. According to the WHO-categorization of BMI in my sample 1% are underweight, 46% are in the normal range, 44% are overweight, and 9% are obese, with women representing a healthier picture than men. Women engage more in weight-loss-dieting and less unhealthy food consumption than men. No gender differences were found with respect to exercise behavior. The unhealthy prototype was mostly negative evaluated whilst the most relevant discriptors of the healthy eater were predominantly positive. The favorability of the unhealthy eater image was significant lower than the favorability of the healthy prototype. The attractivity of the healthy prototype was rated higher than the attractivity of the unhealthy prototype, just as well as the similarity to the two prototypes. Females had a more negative image of the unhealthy prototype than men. In conclusion it can be said that the underlying prototypes about un/healthy food consumption in Mexico were alike to those found in western cultures. About 50% in the variation of females BMI can be explained by the constructs of the PWM, but for the male counterparts those constructs did not have explanatory power. So it can be said that women show greater sensitivity to the constructs of the PWM than men. On the other hand the components of the PWM had significant influence on health protective behavior (exercise and weight-loss- dieting), as well as on health damaging behavior (unhealthy food consumption) by both genders. 13% of the variation of doing regular exercise are due to underlying prototypes, especially similarity to the unhealthy eater was influential. 11% of the variation of weight-loss-dieting are due to the components of the PWM, with behavioral willingness to engage in unhealthy eating behavior being the strongest predictor. 16% of the frequency of unhealthy food consumption in this study can be explained by the constructs of the PWM, with similarity to the unhealthy eater prototype as the only predictor. Unfortunaly, these three behavioral items do not contribute to a good regression model to explain BMI for women, and only weight-loss-dieting had explanatory relation with BMI for men.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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