Religious, Cultural, and Social Aspects of Eating

  • Tina Colaizzo-AnasEmail author
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


What, when, and how much we eat is the culminating behavior that makes up food intake patterns which can be influenced by religion, cultural context, and social milieu. Such influences are channeled by family, friends, faith communities, media, work environment, entertainment venues, etc. Effective counseling for weight management is dependent on an in-depth knowledge and understanding of and sensitivity to religious diversity/multiculturalism, with social intelligence. Practitioners must have skills to make positive accommodations to address diversity in religion, cultural heritage, and social context to affect positive outcomes. The richness of diversity of the American people offers many opportunities for the practitioner in weight management to partner with their clients and patients to make permanent healthy lifestyle changes. An expanding critical mass of evidenced-based research indicates that making cultural accommodations to weight management interventions has the potential to dramatically improve outcomes. Practitioners have a professional responsibility to assess their cultural competence and develop action plans to strengthen knowledge and skills in areas needing improvement. Many online resources are available that can assist the practitioner in assessing cultural competence. Opportunities exist for research to refine our understanding of how to make cultural adaptations to weight management interventions most effectively. As the American demographic changes, practitioners will be challenged increasingly to address the religious, cultural, and social needs of their patients.


Cultural food practices Religious food practices Fasting Cultural competence Multiculturalism Weight management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dietetics and NutritionThe State University of New York-Buffalo StateBuffaloUSA

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