UConn ANTH 1000 - Gendered Eating Differences in Amount of Food Intake on a College Campus

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To objectively measure the amount of food consumption I have divided ‘types’ of plating into three categories: A bowl of food or salad/fruit, a plate of pizza or other food, and dessert. Bowls of food and salad, along with fruits, were worth .5 ‘points’, plates of pizza and other food were worth 1 ‘point’, and desserts were worth 1.5 ‘points’. These points were taken on an individual level and then averaged to see the mean amount of food consumed by both sexes. Eating habits were only observed during lunch and dinner meal service as all food items were pre-portioned and the student could not decide, on their own, how much food to fit on one plate. Observations were also only performed for the entire duration of a participant’s meal. By this, it is meant that I did not collect data from students if I could not know everything they ate/took from the dining hall. Data was put into groups based on the participant’s sex and whether or not they were eating with others.I spent approximately ten hours observing participants in the dining hall. This was done by spending an hour at lunch and an hour at dinner, each day, for a total of five days of data collection. In this time I was able to gather enough useful data to make inferences about the amount of food consumption between men and women here at the University of Connecticut. The way I quantified data allowed me to make objective observations about the amount of food consumed rather than forcing me to make a subjective choice about how ‘healthy’ a meal was. I also did not include drinks in the point process, as it is too subjectively determined (For example, I would not know if someone is drinking ‘Sprite’ or water, or some other clear liquid).I collected data through passive observation and used a pen and notepad to add up ‘points’ each participant accrued throughout their meals.1 | G e n d e r e d E a t i n g D i f f e r e n c e s S p a u l d i n gGendered Eating Differences in Amount of Food Intake on a College CampusEric SpauldingUniversity of Connecticut2 | G e n d e r e d E a t i n g D i f f e r e n c e s S p a u l d i n gAbstractThe purpose of the experiment was to see if there are any prevalent differences in the amount of food consumed by men and women at the University of Connecticut. Participants were divided into two groups based on whether they were with other people (N=62 (31 Men, 31 Women)) or alone (N= 25, (19 Men, 6 women)) and the amount of plates they consumed was observed. Results showed that there is a clear difference between the amount of food consumed by men and women, but not a very significant difference caused by eating with others or alone. Statistical analysis shows that men (with others) consumed an average of 2.52 plates, men (alone) consumed an average of 2.26 plates, women (with others) consumed an average of 1.63 plates, and women (alone) consumed an average of 1.42 plates. This data suggests that there are clear differences, at least in the amount of food consumed, between men and women.3 | G e n d e r e d E a t i n g D i f f e r e n c e s S p a u l d i n gIntroductionThe topic that I was studying is how students enrolled at the University of Connecticut, specifically men and women, consume food in McMahon dining hall. I find this topic interestingbecause it will shed light on the gendered eating differences that occur on a college campus, and should be relatively generalizable to the real-world. I wanted to know if men and women consumed different amounts of food based on their sex and whether or not being with others affected food choice as well. It was hypothesized that men would always consume more than women, and that people who are alone would consume more than if they are with other people. I believe that these hypotheses are true because men, biologically, need to consume more calories and, in general, are expected to eat more than women in social contexts. I also believed that people who are alone would consume more food because they are not under any apparent social pressure to conform to a specific amount of food.There is a great deal of research done on topics similar to my own. In the study “An examination of sex differences in relation to the eating habits and nutrient intakes of university students” done by Li et. all (2012), they wanted to see if university students’ nutrient intake, or eating habits, were dependent on gender (precisely like my own study). They tested their hypotheses through the use of a survey, which is different from my own as I intend to use passive observation to collect my data. They did not, however, find any differences between genders in eating habits. Sex predicted…nutrient intakes partially through eating habits…Interactions between sex and eating habits were nonsignificant (Li et. all 2012). I believe that mystudy will yield more appropriate results, however, because I am basing the gender differences on the amount of food consumed rather than the type of food consumed. I will also be gaining4 | G e n d e r e d E a t i n g D i f f e r e n c e s S p a u l d i n gdata through objective observation and not through a self-reported study, as Li et. all have done in their study.There is another study, done by Hayes and Napolitano titled “Examination of weight control practices in a non-clinical sample of college women.” Though this study was focused more on race, it sheds light on the workings of the female mind when making food choices and will apply to my study as it attempts to show this. Of note, greater use of healthy weight control practices was associated with higher cognitive restraint, drive for thinness, minutes of physical activity, and more frequent use of compensatory strategies (Hayes and Napolitano 2012). This shows that women are actively trying to curb the amount of food that they consume, and, if this is true, it will support my hypothesis that women will consume less food than men.Hayes and Napolitano, like Li et. all, used a survey to collect their data, and I believe thatmy study will do a better job of collecting it objectively because it is not based on self-reports. People are unable to lie about the amount of food they are consuming as I have observed it without their knowledge.


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