Abstract

Eating behaviors among a large population of children are studied as a dynamic process driven by nonlinear interactions in the sociocultural school environment. The impact of food association learning on diet dynamics, inspired by a pilot study conducted among Arizona children in Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grades, is used to build simple population-level learning models. Qualitatively, mathematical studies are used to highlight the possible ramifications of instruction, learning in nutrition, and health at the community level. Model results suggest that nutrition education programs at the population-level have minimal impact on improving eating behaviors, findings that agree with prior field studies. Hence, the incorporation of food association learning may be a better strategy for creating resilient communities of healthy and non-healthy eaters. A Ratatouille effect can be observed when food association learners become food preference learners, a potential sustainable behavioral change, which in turn, may impact the overall distribution of healthy eaters. In short, this work evaluates the effectiveness of population-level intervention strategies and the importance of institutionalizing nutrition programs that factor in economical, social, cultural, and environmental elements that mesh well with the norms and values in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-855
Number of pages15
JournalMathematical Biosciences and Engineering
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Fingerprint

Association Learning
Behavior Modeling
Feeding Behavior
Nutrition
eating habits
learning
Food
Learning
Population
Food Preferences
Population Control
Field Study
preschool children
Nonlinear Interaction
food and nutrition programs
nutrition education
Ramification
Dynamic Process
education programs
food choices

Keywords

  • Deterministic model
  • Eating behavior
  • School nutrition education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Modeling eating behaviors : The role of environment and positive food association learning via a Ratatouille effect. / Murillo, Anarina L.; Safan, Muntaser; Castillo-Chavez, Carlos; Phillips, Elizabeth D Capaldi; Wadhera, Devina.

In: Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 4, 01.08.2016, p. 841-855.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Murillo, Anarina L. ; Safan, Muntaser ; Castillo-Chavez, Carlos ; Phillips, Elizabeth D Capaldi ; Wadhera, Devina. / Modeling eating behaviors : The role of environment and positive food association learning via a Ratatouille effect. In: Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering. 2016 ; Vol. 13, No. 4. pp. 841-855.
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