Do Social Activities Substitute for Food in Youth?
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- Salvy, SJ., Nitecki, L.A. & Epstein, L.H. ann. behav. med. (2009) 38: 205. doi:10.1007/s12160-009-9145-0
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Behavioral economics offers a framework to understand choice among alternatives. There is no research on the interrelationship between food and social activity in overweight and non-overweight children.
The purpose of this study is to test the substitutability of food and social interactions using behavioral economic methods in overweight and non-overweight youth.
Fifty-four (24 males and 30 females) overweight and non-overweight youth aged 9 to 11 years old were tested using a behavioral choice paradigm which involved participants responding to earn points exchangeable for food and/or social activity.
Youth substituted food for social activities when the cost of social time with an unfamiliar peer increased (p < 0.05) and substituted food for social activities with an unfamiliar peer when the cost of food increased (p < 0.05). However, when interacting with a friend was the alternative, participants did not substitute food for social interactions.
Social interactions can serve as a substitute for food in both lean and overweight youth.