What everyone else is eating: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior

Eric Robinson, Jason Thomas, Paul Aveyard, Suzanne Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

There is interest in the hypothesis that social norms are a determinant of healthy and unhealthy dietary practices. The objective of our work was to assess the weight of evidence that experimentally manipulated information about eating norms influences food intake and choice. This systematic review of experimental studies examined whether providing information about other peoples' eating habits influences food intake or choices. To inform the review, three electronic databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and the Social Sciences Citation Index) were searched during July 2012. A narrative approach was used to synthesize studies that examined the influence of norms on food choice and meta-analyses were used to synthesize the effect that informational eating norms have on quantity of food consumed. Fifteen experimental studies were reviewed. There was evidence that both high intake norms (Z=3.84; P=0.0001; standardized mean difference 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.20 to 0.63) and low intake norms (Z=2.78; P=0.005; standard mean difference -0.35, 95% confidence interval -0.59 to -0.10) exerted moderate influence on amounts of food eaten. There was consistent evidence that norms influenced food choices; norm information indicating that others make low-energy or high-energy food choices significantly increased the likelihood that participants made similar choices. Information about eating norms influences choice and quantity of food eaten, which could be used to promote healthy changes to dietary behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-429
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume114
Issue number3
Early online date30 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Fingerprint

systematic review
Feeding Behavior
eating habits
meta-analysis
food choices
Meta-Analysis
Eating
ingestion
Food
confidence interval
food intake
high energy foods
weight-of-evidence
social sciences
Confidence Intervals
Social Sciences
electronics
MEDLINE
Databases
energy

Keywords

  • diet
  • energy intake
  • feeding behavior
  • food preferences
  • MEDLINE
  • social networking
  • social perception

Cite this

Robinson, Eric ; Thomas, Jason ; Aveyard, Paul ; Higgs, Suzanne. / What everyone else is eating : a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior. In: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014 ; Vol. 114, No. 3. pp. 414-429.
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Robinson, E, Thomas, J, Aveyard, P & Higgs, S 2014, 'What everyone else is eating: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior', Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 114, no. 3, pp. 414-429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.009

What everyone else is eating : a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior. / Robinson, Eric; Thomas, Jason; Aveyard, Paul; Higgs, Suzanne.

In: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vol. 114, No. 3, 03.2014, p. 414-429.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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T2 - a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of informational eating norms on eating behavior

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AU - Thomas, Jason

AU - Aveyard, Paul

AU - Higgs, Suzanne

N1 - Copyright © 2014 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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N2 - There is interest in the hypothesis that social norms are a determinant of healthy and unhealthy dietary practices. The objective of our work was to assess the weight of evidence that experimentally manipulated information about eating norms influences food intake and choice. This systematic review of experimental studies examined whether providing information about other peoples' eating habits influences food intake or choices. To inform the review, three electronic databases (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and the Social Sciences Citation Index) were searched during July 2012. A narrative approach was used to synthesize studies that examined the influence of norms on food choice and meta-analyses were used to synthesize the effect that informational eating norms have on quantity of food consumed. Fifteen experimental studies were reviewed. There was evidence that both high intake norms (Z=3.84; P=0.0001; standardized mean difference 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.20 to 0.63) and low intake norms (Z=2.78; P=0.005; standard mean difference -0.35, 95% confidence interval -0.59 to -0.10) exerted moderate influence on amounts of food eaten. There was consistent evidence that norms influenced food choices; norm information indicating that others make low-energy or high-energy food choices significantly increased the likelihood that participants made similar choices. Information about eating norms influences choice and quantity of food eaten, which could be used to promote healthy changes to dietary behavior.

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