ABSTRACT: The purpose of this article is, first, to summarize the literature on the subject, and second, to give in brief the results of certain experimental studies concerning the effect of social context on eating self-regulation in adolescents. There are multiple mechanisms explaining social influences on eating: social facilitation, modelling and impression management. Previous studies reveal that both boys and girls eat less in the presence of a stranger of the opposite sex than in the presence of a same sex. Another part of research shows that people tend to use the amount eaten by their companions as a regulatory guide, neglecting their physiological needs. Aiming to reconciliate this contradictions, we also examine the impact of the presence of other people on the enhancing memory of intake such as the distraction which affects encoding the food experience in memory. In conclusion, the social context has a substantial impact on the amount and types of food that individuals eat, especially in adolescents. Using effective strategies based on these influences has great potential in promoting healthier nutrition. We discuss the implications of a social approach to the analysis of overeating concerning the adolescents, the methodological limitations and the impact on nutritional interventions.
KEYWORDS: social norms, social influence, eating self-regulation, memory, distraction.