Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

Title abbreviation: Adv Clin Exp Med
JCR Impact Factor (IF) – 1.736
5-Year Impact Factor – 2.135
Index Copernicus  – 168.52
MEiN – 70 pts

ISSN 1899–5276 (print)
ISSN 2451-2680 (online)
Periodicity – monthly

Download original text (EN)

Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine

2020, vol. 29, nr 1, January, p. 165–172

doi: 10.17219/acem/111817

Publication type: review article

Language: English

License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Download citation:

  • BIBTEX (JabRef, Mendeley)
  • RIS (Papers, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Zotero)

Do nutritional behaviors depend on biological sex and cultural gender?

Małgorzata Grzymisławska1,A,B,C,D,E,F, Elżbieta Alicja Puch2,A,B,C,D,E,F, Agnieszka Zawada2,B,D,F, Marian Grzymisławski2,A,C,E,F

1 Department of Anatomy, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland

2 Internal and Metabolic Diseases and Dietetics Department, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland


Conventional knowledge, resulting from observations and experience, maintains the conviction that there are gender differences in the acquisition, preparation and consumption of food. This review shows differences between the sexes in eating behavior, food choice and nutritional strategy which were conditioned by evolution and by intra-individual (biological or psychological) and extra-individual (socioeconomic and cultural) factors. Women manifest a more pronounced trust in healthy nutrition, greater engagement in controlling body weight, a higher tendency to eat in a group and in stressful situations, and they frequently experience frustration due to their own nutritional behaviors, which reflects higher social pressure and their attempts to reduce eating-related pleasure. On the other hand, men prefer fatty meals with a strong taste, and are directed mainly by the pleasure of consumption; they more frequently furtively eat sweet foods while watching television, use more dietary supplements and more frequently visit fast food restaurants. Nutritional behavior, styles of nutrition, dietary profiles, approach to nourishment, approach to the place of meal consumption, and the sources of nutritional knowledge all demonstrate associations with gender. Reciprocal interactions between gender and diet are conditioned by physiological, psychological and sociocultural factors. This system of reciprocal interactions includes feedback: biological sex and cultural gender shape one’s diet and, reciprocally, one’s diet affects the deepening or flattening of gender differences. The analysis of reciprocally interacting factors entangled in the formation of a nutritional model may also represent an important element of pro-health prophylaxis and should be used in medical and dietary practice. Males in particular should be informed and educated about health-promoting diets.

Key words

eating habits, food intake, nutritional strategy, female subjects, male subjects

References (45)

  1. Leonard WR, Robertson ML. Nutritional requirements and human evolution: A bioenergetics model. Am J Hum Biol.1992;4(2):179–195. doi:10.1002/ajhb.1310040204
  2. Counihan CM. Food and gender: Identity and power. In: Counihan CM, Kaplan SL, eds. Food in History and Culture. Series. Reading, UK: Harwood Academic Publishers, Tylor & Francis e-Library; 2005:1–11. Accessed June 15, 2016.
  3. Turner BL, Thompson AL. Beyond the Paleolithic prescription: Incorporating diversity and flexibility in the study of human diet evolution. Nutr Rev. 2013;71(8):501–510.
  4. Bellisle F. Why should we study human food intake behaviour? Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2003;13(4):189–193.
  5. Berbesque JC, Marlowe FW, Crittenden AN. Sex differences in Hadza eating frequency by food type. Am J Hum Biol. 2011;23(3):339–345.
  6. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Accessed June 15, 2016.
  7. Blickhäuse A, von Bargen H. Fit for gender mainstreaming. Berlin, Germany; 2007. Accessed June 15, 2016.
  8. Beckmann G. Nutrition and gender. Summary of different specialist articles. Accessed June 15, 2016.
  9. Kochhar S, Jacobs DM, Ramadan Z, Berruex F, Fuerholz A, Fay LB. Probing gender-specific metabolism differences in humans by nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabonomics. Anal Biochem. 2006;352(2):274–281.
  10. Kozakowski J, Dudek P, Zgliczyński S. Serum ghrelin level in men is lower than in women and it decreases with age and with decline of serum testosterone level. Endokrynol Pol. 2004;55(4):414–420.
  11. Makovey J, Naganathan V, Seibel M, Sambrook P. Gender differences in plasma ghrelin and its relations to body composition and bone: An opposite-sex twin study. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2007;66(4):530–537.
  12. Abu-Farha M, Mohammed Dehbi M, Noronha F, et al. Gender differences in ghrelin association with cardiometabolic risk factors in Arab population. Int J Endocrinol. 2014; Article ID 730472, Accessed June 15, 2016.
  13. Hellström L, Wahrenberg H, Hruska K, Reynisdottir S, Arner P. Mechanisms behind gender differences in circulating leptin levels. J Intern Med. 2000;247(4):457–462.
  14. Rosenbaum M, Pietrobelli A, Vasselli JR, Heymsfield SB, Leibel RL. ­Sexual dimorphism in circulating leptin concentrations is not accounted for by differences in adipose tissue distribution. Int J Obes. 2001;25(9):1365–1371.
  15. Dudek P, Zgliczyński S. In men testosterone therapy decreases serum leptin concentration and diminishes the fat mass. Endokrynol Pol. 2003;54(1):57–63.
  16. World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight. WHO; 2015. heets/fs311/en/. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  17. Eurostat. Overweight and obesity – BMI statistics. Eurostat; 2016. Accessed June 17, 2016.
  18. Grantham JP, Henneberg M. The estrogen hypothesis of obesity. PLoS One. 2014;9(6):e99776. eCollection 2014. Accessed June 17, 2016. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099776
  19. Woźniak M, Murias M. Xenoestrogens: Substances disturbing function of hormonal system [in Polish]. Ginekol Pol. 2008;79(11):785–790.
  20. Wardle J, Haase A, Steptoe A, Nillapun M, Jonwutiwes K, Bellisie F. Gender differences in food choice: The contribution of health beliefs and dieting. Ann Behav Med. 2004;27(2):107–116.
  21. Grogan SC, Bell R, Conner M. Eating sweet snacks: Gender differences in attitudes and behavior. Appetite 1997;28(1):19–31.
  22. Jeznach M, Jeżewska-Zychowicz M, Kosicka-Gębska M. Konsumpcja słodyczy i jej społeczno-kulturowe uwarunkowania. Probl Hig Epidemiol. 2011;92(4):806–809.
  23. Morse KL, Driskell JA. Observed sex differences in fast-food consumption and nutrition self-assessments and beliefs of college students. Nutrition Research. 2009;29(3):173–179.
  24. Horiguchi M, Tanaka G, Ogasawara H, Maruyama R. Validation and gender-based comparison of the eating behavior scale for Japanese young adults. Psychology. 2014;5(19):2173–2179.
  25. Margetts B, Martine JA, Saba A, Holm L, Kearney M. Definitions of “healthy” eating: A pan-EU survey of consumer attitudes to food, nutrition and health. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997;51(2):23–29.
  26. Missagia SV, de Oliveira SR, de Rezende DC. Food choice motives and healthy eating: Assessing gender differences. Paper presented at: XXXVI Encontro da ANPAD; September 22–26, 2016; Rio de ­Janeiro, Brazil.
  27. Rasińska R. Nawyki żywieniowe studentów w zależności od płci. Now Lek. 2012;81(4):354–359.
  28. Lieberman HR, Marriott BP, Williams C, et al. Patterns of dietary supplement use among college students. Clin Nutr. 2015;34:976–985.
  29. Smee D, Pumpa K, Falchi M, Lithander F. The relationship between diet quality and falls risk, physical function and body composition in older adults. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015;19(10):1037–1042.
  30. Shevchenko Y, Mamontova T, Baranova A, Vesnina L, Kaidashev I. Changes in lifestyle factors affect the levels of neuropeptides involved in control of eating behavior, insulin resistance and level of chronic systemic inflammation in young overweight persons [in Russian]. Georgian Med News. 2015;248:50–57.
  31. Arganini C, Saba A, Comitato R, Virgili F, Turrini A. Gender differences in food choice and dietary intake in modern Western societies. In: Maddock J, ed. Public Health, Social and Behavioral Health. Accessed June 15, 2016.
  32. Fagerli RA, Wandel M. Gender differences in opinions and practices with regard to a “healthy diet”. Appetite. 1999;32(2):171–190.
  33. Lehto E, Ray C, Haukkala A, Yngve A, Thorsdottir I, Roos E. Predicting gender differences in linking for vegetables and preference for a variety of vegetables among 11-year-old children. Appetite. 2015;95:285–292.
  34. Robinson-O’Brien R, Neumark-Sztainer D, Hannan PJ, Stat M, Burgess-Champoux T, Heines J. Fruits and vegetables at home: Child and parent perceptions. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2009;41(5):360–364.
  35. Menozzi D, Sogari G, Mora C. Explaining vegetable consumption among young adults: An application of the theory of planned behaviour. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):7633–7650.
  36. Davy SR, Benes BA, Driskell JA. Sex differences in dieting trends, eating habits, and nutrition beliefs of a group of Midwestern college students. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106(10):1673–1677.
  37. Timperio A, Burns C, Cameron-Smith D, Crawford D. “Fattening” foods. Perceptions and misconceptions: A qualitative and quantitative exploration. Nutr Diet. 2003;60(4):230–238.
  38. Lin KG, Cobiac L, Skrzypiec G. Gender differences in eating behavior and social self-concept among Malaysian University students. Mal J Nutr. 2002;8(1):75–98.
  39. Markey CN, Markey PM. Relations between body image and dieting behaviors: An examination of gender differences. Sex Roles. 2005;53(7–8):519–530.
  40. Presnell K, Pells J, Stout A, Musante G. Sex differences in the relation of weight loss self-efficacy, binge eating, and depressive symptoms to weight loss success in a residential obesity treatment program. Eat Behav. 2008;9(2):170–180.
  41. Leblanc V, Bégin C, Hudon AM, et al. Gender differences in the long-term effects of a nutritional intervention program promoting the Mediterranean diet: Changes in dietary intakes, eating behaviors, anthropometric and metabolic variables. Nutr J. 2014;13(107):1–19.
  42. Ahmed F, Al-Radhwan L, Al-Azmi G, Al-Beajan M. Association between stress and dietary behaviors among undergraduate students in Kuwait: Gender differences. J Nutr Health Sci. 2014;1(1):1–8.
  43. Habhab S, Sheldon JP, Loeb RC. The relationship between stress, dietary restraint, and food preferences in women. Appetite. 2009;52(2):437–444.
  44. Butki BD, Baumstark J, Driver S. Effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on affective responses to acute exercise among physically active participants. Percept Mot Skills. 2003;96(2):607–615.
  45. Leblanc V, Bégin C, Corneau L, Dodin S, Lemieux S. Gender differences in dietary intakes: What is the contribution of motivational variables? J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015;28(1):37–46.