Monday, August 24, 2009

Eating Culture, Not Information, Key to Obesity Epidemic

The Hartman Group, a market research firm that specializes in studying how consumer attitudes and behaviors lead to purchase, says the ideal solutions to the obesity dilemma "may have little at all to do with individual people—and personal responsibility—and a heck of a lot more to do with the larger cultural framework within which we live our lives."

"You’ve heard this from us before, but it bears repeating again and again, until it is clearly understood," the group says in an article in its HartBeat online newsletter. "We believe significant shifts in important dimensions of our eating culture (e.g., increased snacking frequency, the tendency toward eating alone, and the shifts in eating occasions) have contributed to much of our health and obesity problems."

"...And herein, once again, lies the most significant and important challenge of all, namely, how to change not individual behavior, but the parameters within which such behavior resides—how to change our culture."

Meanwhile, Hartman says increased knowledge and education regarding matters of health, weight and diet "appear to have little impact on one’s own health and weight."

"While we’ve all watched the value of helpful educational information designed to aid the individual consumer skyrocket, we’ve also seen a related rise in obesity rates," the group says. "Strangely, government programs continue to produce ever-more elaborate informative brochures and educational materials, as if somehow these were going to magically begin producing results."

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