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Socio-economic disparities in the consumption of vegetables, fruit and energy-dense foods: the role of motive priorities

  • Hanna Konttinen (a1), Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva (a2), Karri Silventoinen (a1), Satu Männistö (a3) and Ari Haukkala (a1)...

A low socio-economic status (SES) is related to less healthy dietary habits, but the reasons for this remain unclear. We examined whether the absolute or relative importance of various food choice motives contributed to SES disparities in vegetable/fruit and energy-dense food intake.


We analysed cross-sectional data from the FINRISK Study 2007 by means of structural equation modelling and used a shortened version of the Food Choice Questionnaire to assess the absolute importance of health, pleasure, convenience, price, familiarity and ethicality motives. We calculated the relative importance of each motive by dividing the participant's rating of it by his/her mean score on all motives. Dietary intake was measured with an FFQ.


A population-based survey in Finland.


Men (n 1691) and women (n 2059) aged 25–64 years.


Higher education and income were related to a greater vegetable/fruit intake (β = 0·12, P < 0·001), while education was associated negatively with the consumption of energy-dense foods (β = −0·09, P < 0·001). Socio-economically disadvantaged individuals considered price and/or familiarity more important in their food choices in both absolute and relative terms. A higher income was related to a greater relative importance of health considerations. Relative motives were more strongly associated with vegetable/fruit and energy-dense food consumption than absolute motives and the relative importance of price, familiarity and health partly mediated the effects of the SES indicators on the consumption of these food items.


Individual priorities in food choice motives, rather than the absolute importance of single motives, play a role in producing SES disparities in diet.

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