Cognitive-Behavioral Theory

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Chapter 15 of Community Nutrition in Action discusses different theories in which people understand and achieve behavioral change. Many different theories have been created which attempt to explain why people make certain decisions that change their behavior. An example would be someone starting a diet and work out program because he or she is over weight.  A behavioral change like this will alter the daily life of an individual, usually creating life-changing benefits. But why doesn’t everyone change his or her behavior for good.  This chapter explains some of these theories.

One of the theories I found interesting was the Cognitive-Behavioral Theory.  The Cognitive-Behavioral Theory is usually applied when groups of people have a sense of self-efficacy, and are motivated to make a change in their behavior.  The theory deems all behaviors learned are directly related to internal factors (e.g. thoughts) and external factors (e.g. environmental stimuli and social response).   Applicants are instructed to follow different strategies to recognize thoughts and actions that lead poor eating and lifestyle habits.  Some strategies include goal setting, social support, self-motorizing, problem solving, and stimulus control.

A nutritional education plan could be created in high schools and colleges that follow the Cognitive-Behavioral Theory.  An example I thought of would be a class that students had the option to take, in which grades would be distributed by means of reaching certain health goals as the class goes on.  First, having the class be optional would filter out people who were not serious of changing their behaviors. Next, the class would allow students to create goals (e.g. lose 10 lbs or lower blood sugar).  Students could then be coached on how to attain these goals through eating habits and physical activity. Teachers could monitor student’s progress of accomplishing their goals throughout the course and grade them appropriately.

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