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Sociocultural Influences Affects Health

How Sociocultural Influences Affects Our Behavior Towards Health

The participation of a person in a given type of sport or physical activity or the consumption of a more or less healthy diet, is usually a result of sociocultural influences such as age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status and education. However, understanding attitude trends among a population group may be tricky, as behavior choices are multifactorial and hard to narrow down to only one or two aspects of one’s life. In this article, we will be addressing the main sociocultural factors found in recent studies that may influence attitudes towards health, fitness and physical activity.

Relationship Between Age and Health Awareness

Recent studies demonstrated that individuals who shown to be more focused on health, are those aged between 18 and 34. Interestingly, people in this age group were found to be more individualistic and self-directed in making choices for themselves compared to the older age group assessed (aged 55-74). Perhaps, this may be a result of the amount of available information on the internet, which younger people explore more than those from older generations.

Environmental Factors

Environment Affects Physical Activity

Another factor that was looked at when trying to investigate attitudes towards a healthy lifestyle, was the area people lived in. It was in fact found that the design of the environment can affect the desirability to walk, cycle or exercise in a specific place. For instance, people living near parks were found to be more likely to perform some level of physical activity, compared to those living near a busy street. To some degree, this is also due to the perceived level of danger of some areas, where parents may be discouraged to let their kids play outside in fear of something happening to them. Environment can also be a barrier for eating a healthy diet, as some towns may be located far away from markets and major shops, and only offer limited availability of fresh, nutritious ingredients.

Social Status and Education

It was found that in developed countries, people with higher incomes are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who are more economically disadvantaged. This could be due to the ability to afford gym or clubs memberships, personal trainers or specialized sport instructors, as well as a more likely higher level of education. In fact, being aware of health risks related to obesity and inactivity were found to be a driver for deliberate weight control practices, whether this included performing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, or both.

Ethnicity and Culture

When looking at immigration status, some studies shown no difference between immigrants and locals when assessing their behaviors towards health, whilst other studies found that migrants were more likely to show outcomes similar to those with lower incomes, suggesting that ethnicity may affect behaviors towards health differently based on how long someone has been living in a given country, how well they have integrated, or depending on their cultural and religious beliefs.

Gender and Attitudes Towards Sport and Diet

Sociocultural Influence on Food Shopping

Other studies demonstrated that males and females shop at supermarkets differently. Males are more likely to be passive shoppers when food shopping, while females are more likely to pay attention to the nutritional value of foods. Likewise, men were found to be more likely involved in the performance of sport or physical activity than women, therefore it can be hard to suggest whether gender can be a sociocultural indicator of behavior towards health.


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