CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Researchers have discovered a subtle new difference between men and women this one occurring in the realm of eating.
In the new study of observed eating behavior in a social setting, young men and women who perceived their bodies as being less than "ideal" ate differing amounts of food after they were shown images of "ideal-bodied" people of their own gender.
Lead researcher Kristen Harrison found that "in the presence of same-gender peers, certain women eat less and certain men eat more following exposure to ideal-body images certain in this case referring to women and men who have discrepancies between their actual body and the kind of body they think their peers idealize," Harrison said.
"In a nutshell," Harrison said, "we found that, following exposure to ideal-body images, men who are insecure about their bodies eat more in front of other men, while women who are insecure about their bodies eat less in front of other women."
Harrison is a professor of speech communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The co-authors of the study are Laramie D. Taylor, a professor of communication at the University of California at Davis, and Amy Lee Marske, a teacher at Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Ill.
The study findings appear in the December issue of Communication Research in an article titled, "Womens and Mens Eating Behavior Following Exposure to Ideal-Body Images and Text."
Harrison, who has focused her scholarly research on issues of nutrition and eating, perceptions of ideal-body weight and the impact of media on them, randomly assigned the male and female subjects to be tested in same-gender groups of three to nine people.
The subjects participated in one of four scenarios: Some were randomly chosen to view slides of images of fit men and women that had no accompanying text, some viewed slides that contained diet- and exercise-related text, s
Contact: Andrea Lynn
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign