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J Am Diet Assoc. 1993 May;93(5):551-5.

Stereotypes associated with a low-fat diet and their relevance to nutrition education.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112.


Two experiments and one correlational study were conducted to examine the nature and consequences of stereotypes of persons who eat either low-fat or high-fat diets. In Study 1, 132 college students were asked to describe the personal characteristics of a typical male or female peer who was associated with one of three diet characteristics (high-fat diet, low-fat diet, or no diet description). For Study 2, personal characteristics attributed to persons who eat either a low-fat or a high-fat diet that were obtained in Study 1 were converted into rating scales. In the second study, 164 participants were asked to rate one of six target personalities that were created by combining the three diet and two gender conditions (eg, a man who eats high-fat foods). These two studies revealed that both desirable and undesirable personal characteristics are attributed to individuals who eat high-fat diets and to those who eat low-fat diets. Persons eating low-fat diets were described and rated as being self-centered and fastidious students, whereas persons eating high-fat diets were described as being more easy going and more likely to attend parties. However, persons who eat low-fat foods were also described more favorably as being physically fit and attractive. In Study 3, we examined the relationship between stereotypes of persons who eat low-fat diets and reactions to a widely used cancer prevention booklet in a group of 177 undergraduates.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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