From the ethics of care to the imperative of healthism? Gender and food-related attitudes in Europe

Laura Nistor



In the case of food women are considered to be the stakeholders, because women are those who usually take care of family diet, buy and cook the products. The major role of women in feeding the family was intensively discussed in the international literature and usually it is approached at the crossroad of the ethics of care and patriarchal subordination of women. Another stream of the literature relates to the role of women in health promotion, both in terms of obsessed weight-control and dieting and in terms of accentuated attention given to organizing a healthy family-diet. Besides such discussions, there are also evidence which suggest that gender differences in connection with food are not so salient. Rooted in such theoretical aspects the article takes an exploratory view  and investigates whether based on the relatively new data of the Special Eurobarometer no. 354 in connection with food-related attitudes in the European Union, it is possible to reveal some gender differences in the ways in which women and men formulate opinions on the meaning of food. The results suggest that food-attitudes have the same latent structure in the case of both men and women, i.e. irrespective of gender, respondents oppose two types of views: food as a selection and preparation practice and food as  healthism. However, women are more predisposed than men in associating food with five out of six manifest variables corresponding to these latent dimensions. The power of gender is particularly important in the case of those manifest variables which correspond to the latent dimension of healthism.

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