The present research was initiated to examine the prevalence of forced consumption and its role in subsequent food rejection. A forced consumption episode was defined as a situation where Person(s) A forced or demanded Person B to consume a specific substance against Person B's will. An initial survey of 407 college students revealed that over 69% of them had experienced at least one forced consumption episode. One hundred forty individuals completed a follow-up questionnaire exploring various characteristics of their most memorable forced consumption scenario. Specifically, the most common type of forced consumption (76%) involved an authority figure (e.g. parent, teacher) forcing a child to consume a novel, disliked, or aversive food. In this authority figure scenario, respondents recalled the episode as involving interpersonal conflict and negative affect, and identified the most aversive aspects of this scenario as lack of control and feelings of helplessness. Furthermore, most respondents (72%) reported that they would not willingly eat the target food today. In sum, the forced consumption episode appears to be a unique situation in which distasteful food combines with interpersonal conflict to result in long-lasting food rejection.
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