Craving chocolate? Blame cultural norms
Ladies, take note! Craving for chocolates during your periods may be a result of widespread cultural norms rather than a physical need, scientists claim.
Researchers from University at Albany in the US tested the surprising, yet increasingly compelling hypothesis that menstrual chocolate cravings may be a culture-bound construct.
They found that women not born in the US are less likely to experience menstrual chocolate cravings compared to women born to US-born parents and second-generation Americans.
The team also found that women who experience menstrual chocolate cravings feel more immersed in US culture than non-menstrual chocolate cravers do.
"While menstrual chocolate cravings are common in the US, they are rare in other parts of the world," said Julia Hormes, assistant professor of psychology at University at Albany.
"For example, research has found only 28 per cent of Spanish women experience chocolate cravings around the onset of menstruation and only six per cent of Egyptian women crave chocolate at all," said Hormes.
"These geographic differences hint at the role of cultural norms. In a society that emphasises the 'thin ideal' of female beauty, women may view menstruation as a socially acceptable excuse to indulge in otherwise 'taboo' food," she added.
Researchers surveyed 275 undergraduate women from diverse backgrounds. The participants answered questions related to both the frequency and timing of chocolate cravings and perceived causes of those cravings.
Non-US respondents were no less likely to said that they experienced any chocolate cravings than American women, but were significantly less likely to think of the menstrual cycle as the cause of those cravings.
Specifically, 40.9 per cent of second-generation Americans and 32.7 per cent of women born to US-born parents reported experiencing chocolate cravings at specific times of the menstrual cycle, researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Plos One.