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Defining your sex by your eating habits


Everyone knows it: men eat differently to women. Or maybe women eat differently to men?
In any case, there are statistically proven differences between the sexes.


Women eat twice as much fruit and vegetables, but only half as much meat as their male counterparts – and they drink less alcohol. Furthermore, they know more about how to maintain a healthy diet. And they seem to put this knowledge to better use too, since statistics show that, on average, women are less likely to be obese than men.

“It’s down to genetics” or “it’s just nature” are popular claims. But they’re not true.

Studies have come to quite different conclusions. Above all, different eating habits reflect the different gender roles prevalent in our society. Eating is a tool with which we shape our sexual identity and helps us to obtain acceptance in the social sphere. In short, society expects men to eat “manly, strong, meaty” foods and women “ladylike, weak, plant-based” foods.

The fact that this is a learned behaviour bound up with our cultural traditions is proven by comparing it to peoples who have a surplus of meat in their environment, for example. Here there is no statistical difference between the amount of meat consumed by men and women.


So on closer inspection, the national statistics are actually the result of social conditioning, much more than any genetic disposition. Girls, who are inculcated right from childhood to abstain, are less likely to become overweight as adults too. Since women still typically bear responsibility for running the home, it makes sense that they will know more about food and diet. When it comes to alcohol, the influence of society on behaviour, be it as a result of peer pressure during teenage years or membership of a certain social class, is quite clear.

It seems inadequate to reduce such complex matters down and see them in terms of sex alone. Maybe in future we should stop giving credence to the notion, held dear by many though it is, that sex gives some sort of natural explanation for different eating habits. Much more research must be done into the societal and social factors that influence such behaviour. After all, the days in which it was necessary and effective to use the physiological differences between men and women as justification for men’s superior position in society are long gone.

Source:, Andrea Kornblum