Course Feature: SOC 221: Why We Overeat: Perspectives on Nutrition

There is increased awareness in American society that the food that we eat en masse is not necessarily good for us. For too many Americans, however, poorer socioeconomic circumstances and neighborhood constraints combine to frustrate or outright block eating healthily. As a result, obesity is on the rise in America. This phenomenon is covered in SOC 221: Why We Overeat: Perspectives on Nutrition, along with topics including “your brain on food,” the food industry, “conditioned hypereating,” and “treatment and food rehab.”

Ted Lehmann, faculty program director for the social sciences, says this popular course includes the use of a personal food diary that helps students understand what is in the foods they eat and even come to terms with their own eating habits. “The examination of the food industry also stirs quite a bit of interest among students, as the machinations of the sellers of all that sugar, salt, and fat are examined in detail throughout the course,” he says.

Lehmann says any student interested in eating healthier can benefit from this course. The biggest takeaway, he adds, is that students learn about the “dangers of the food industry and how to combat conditioned hypereating,” which experts claim is characterized by compulsive or binge eating and a preoccupation with food.

One faculty member, Dr. Aleta Geib, reported, “The majority of the students in the class said their eating habits changed for the better as a result of taking this course. In addition, their views of people who were overweight or obese changed as well. For instance, they no longer blamed the obese for their obesity. The majority of students consider the course ‘life changing.’”

Students have “highly recommended” the course, saying, “the information and education I received will help me make better choices and help others along the way” and “The class was very informative and helped me to better assess my eating habits and develop a better diet.”

Lehmann adds, “It is not the fault of any individual that they may become addicted to bad foods and eating habits. Our society, food industry, and government have all coalesced to produce the poverty of our present food culture, but we do have the capacity to change our behavior and many are leading the way.” SOC 221: Why We Overeat: Perspectives on Nutrition is the type of course than can affect peoples’ thinking and lead to that sort of change. Consider signing up for the course next semester.