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Constraints on food choices of women in the UK with lower educational attainment

  • M Barker (a1), WT Lawrence (a1), TC Skinner (a2), CO Haslam (a3), SM Robinson (a1), HM Inskip (a1), BM Margetts (a1), AA Jackson (a1), DJP Barker (a1) and C Cooper (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898000800178X
  • Published online: 01 December 2008
Abstract
AbstractObjective

Women of lower educational attainment have less balanced and varied diets than women of higher educational attainment. The diets of women are vital to the long-term health of their offspring. The present study aimed to identify factors that influence the food choices of women with lower educational attainment and how women could be helped to improve those choices.

Design

We conducted eight focus group discussions with women of lower educational attainment to identify these factors. We contrasted the results of these discussions with those from three focus group discussions with women of higher educational attainment.

Setting

Southampton, UK.

Subjects

Forty-two white Caucasian women of lower educational attainment and fourteen of higher educational attainment aged 18 to 44 years.

Results

The dominant theme in discussions with women of lower educational attainment was their sense that they lacked control over food choices for themselves and their families. Partners and children exerted a high degree of control over which foods were bought and prepared. Women’s perceptions of the cost of healthy food, the need to avoid waste, being trapped at home surrounded by opportunities to snack, and having limited skill and experience with food, all contributed to their sense they lacked control over their own and their family’s food choices.

Conclusions

An intervention to improve the food choices of women with lower educational attainment needs to increase their sense of control over their diet and the foods they buy. This might include increasing their skills in food preparation.

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Corresponding author
Email meb@mrc.soton.ac.uk
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1.MV Groth , S Fagt & L Brøndsted (2001) Social determinants of dietary habits in Denmark. Eur J Clin Nutr 55, 959966.

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5.DM Campbell , MH Hall , DJP Barker , J Cross , AW Shiell & KM Godfrey (1996) Diet in pregnancy and the offspring’s blood pressure 40 years later. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 103, 273280.

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8.DA Lawlor , GD Batty , SMB Morton , H Clark , S Macintyre & DA Leon (2005) Childhood socioeconomic position, educational attainment, and adult cardiovascular risk factors: the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s cohort study. Am J Public Health 95, 12451251.

10.H Inskip , KM Godfrey , SM Robinson , CM Law , DJP Barker & C Cooper , SWS Study (2006) Cohort profile: The Southampton Women's Survey. Int J Epidemiol 35, 4248.

13.CF Bove , J Sobal & BS Rauschenbach (2003) Food choices among newly married couples: convergence, conflict, individualism, and projects. Appetite 40, 2541.

15.BL Beagan & GE Chapman (2004) Family influences on food choice: context of surviving breast cancer. J Nutr Educ Behav 36, 320326.

16.EA Skinner (1996) A guide to constructs of control. J Pers Soc Psychol 71, 549570.

18.LA Dibsdall , N Lambert & LJ Frewer (2002) Using interpretative phenomenology to understand the food-related experiences and beliefs of a select group of low-income UK women. J Nutr Educ Behav 34, 298309.

19.CM Devine , M Connors , CA Bisogni & J Sobal (1998) Life-course influences on fruit and vegetable trajectories: qualitative analysis of food choices. J Nutr Educ 30, 361370.

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