Everyone seems to be an expert--at least when it comes to eating. People can tell you, without much hesitation, about what foods they eat, why they eat certain foods and avoid others, when they eat, and with whom they eat. In general, they can provide you with a lot of information about their eating patterns. In fact, they can be rather emphatic about the entire subject. As the evidence accumulates for the relationship between the occurrence of many diseases (e.g., adult-onset diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and colon cancer) and many food consumption patterns, health professionals are beginning to realize that health promotion is as important as the time-honored goal of disease treatment. The emphasis on health promotion has induced professionals in fields outside traditional medicine to focus research and education efforts on food-related behavior. Professionals in food and nutrition, health education, social marketing, and psychology as well as others have intensified their efforts to find ways to promote beneficial eating patterns in the general population. Modifying people’s food-related behaviors, however, requires an understanding of why people eat what they eat. The good news for health professionals is that people are interested in food and nutrition, and they can tell us a lot about how they think, feel, and act in relation to food. The bad news, however, is that when people perceive themselves as knowledgeable about a topic, they are less receptive to new information and less likely to modify their behaviors.
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