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Socio-economic dietary inequalities in UK adults: an updated picture of key food groups and nutrients from national surveillance data

  • Eva R. Maguire (a1) and Pablo Monsivais (a1)

Abstract

Socio-economic differences in diet are a potential contributor to health inequalities. The present study provides an up-to-date picture of socio-economic differences in diet in the UK, focusing on the consumption of three food groups and two nutrients of public health concern: fruit and vegetables; red and processed meat; oily fish; saturated fats; non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES). We analysed data for 1491 adults (age  ≥ 19 years) from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2008–2011. Socio-economic indicators were household income, occupational social class and highest educational qualification. Covariate-adjusted estimates for intakes of fruit and vegetables, red and processed meat, and both nutrients were estimated using general linear models. Covariate-adjusted OR for oily fish consumption were derived with logistic regression models. We observed consistent socio-economic gradients in the consumption of the three food groups as estimated by all the three indicators. Contrasting highest and lowest levels of each socio-economic indicator, we observed significant differences in intakes for the three food groups and NMES. Depending on the socio-economic indicator, highest socio-economic groups consumed up to 128 g/d more fruit and vegetables, 26 g/d less red and processed meat, and 2·6 % points less NMES (P< 0·05 for all). Relative to lowest socio-economic groups, highest socio-economic groups were 2·4 to 4·0 times more likely to eat oily fish. No significant patterns in saturated fat consumption were apparent. In conclusion, socio-economic differences were identified in the consumption of food groups and one nutrient of public health importance. Aligning dietary intakes with public health guidance may require interventions specifically designed to reduce health inequalities.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Dr P. Monsivais, email pm491@medschl.cam.ac.uk

References

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