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A study by Hawks (2003) examined a cross cultural obesity rates in the USA and Japan and focused on the role of “motivation for eating” as a potent factor in emergence of obesity. The Purpose(s) of the study is to find out the reason why obesity becomes a major problem not only in the USA but also in Japan as well as compare the eating habits of the two nations to determine their differences and their different impact on obesity trends. The study relates to the body of literature cited in the article directly by exploring the reasons or the causes of obesity as linked to excessive food consumption. On average, a Japanese consumes around 200 calories less per day than an American. On the other hand, the food prices in Japan are substantially higher than in the USA, making it more difficult even for the person with the same salary (as in the USA) to afford as much food. Japan, on average, has healthier eating habits than the USA, while the Japanese, in general, have much more active lifestyles.
A study by Hawks (2003) covers the participants and the interventions. The study was based on the 1218 participants aged 18 years attending colleges in the US and Japan. The study used the Motivation for Eating Scale (MFES) to evaluate different motivations for eating by nation and gender and to determine the differences. The interventions or measurements used in the study suggest that the researcher used the MFES scale (12 items classified into three subscales: emotional, physical and environmental eating) to evaluate the preference for eating and the motivations for overeating. Subsequently the questionnaire was used to determine motivation to lose weight, frequency of dieting, presence of previous or existing eating disorders, and frequency of exercise (Hawks 2003). The independent variables involved the motivation to eat or overeat and the motivation to lose weight, frequency of dieting, presence of previous or existing eating disorders, and frequency of exercise, while the dependent variable involved the weight of the participants and the BMI. The study was conducted in universities by using a sample of 1218 participants aged 18 years attending colleges in the US and Japan. The researchers recorded answers in a questionnaire and MFES scale (Hawks 2003).
The important statistical findings suggest that currently, the USA has the highest obesity rates in the world and Japan has one of the lowest obesity rates not only among the first world nations, but also in the world. As noted previously less than 4% of Japanese aged 16 and more have BMI of over 30. Yet, as it is the case with many other developed nations the obesity rates, slowly but surely continue to grow in Japan, too. In Japan the BMI of over 25 means that the person is obese (in the USA obesity is characterized by the BMI of over 30). With these figures in mind, more than 24 % of the Japanese aged 16 and more had BMI of over 25 (Hawks 2003). What is more important, there is an increasing number of young females (25%) in Japan who, according to the BMI measures are severely underweight (BMI <19). Unlike in the undeveloped nations where such low BMI characterizes malnutrition and poverty, in Japan miniature female figure is considered popular and stylish, hence many females pursue t
hese trends. In the USA more than 66% have BMI of more than 25 (Hawks 2003). Furthermore, Women in the US were more likely to eat for emotional reasons, while women in Japan were more likely to eat for physical or environmental reasons. Also, the US women and men were more likely than the Japanese respondents to eat in response to watching TV or movies (Hawks 2003).
The findings of the study suggested that there are substantial differences between US and Japanese populations with regards to food consumptions. That means that Americans are likely to eat for different reasons (emotional), especially US women and that is likely to affect their weight and contribute to the growing obesity rates. The findings compare with previous studies and suggest that indeed, the eating habits directly affect the person’s age and can be one of the main reasons for growing obesity rates in the USA (Hawks 2003). What is more important, as Japanese people adopt the western culture, one can suspect that obesity rates will also grow there, when, for instance, the Japanese start to eat in response to watching TV or movies. The author’s suggestions for future research call for additional exploration of the role of culture, habits and traditions to consume foods. As it turns out that the Japanese and Americans had different culture to consume food, it is the cultural role that should be explored in the future to learn about the obesity and overweight rates