A recent study in Denmark supports the view that social class and education can play an active role in dietary habits.
Scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark investigated whether there is an association between socioeconomic status and a healthy diet, taking the possible influence of other social variables such as age, gender, income and household composition into consideration.
They studied a total of 852 men and 870 women aged between 18 and 80. A seven day estimated dietary record was used to obtain information about the diet. Information about social background was gained through face-to-face interview.
The results showed that the intake of fruit and vegetables and the percentage energy (E%) from fat in the diet were significantly associated with the educational level of both men and women.
For men with only basic schooling, the mean intake of vegetables and fat was 84 g/10 MJ and 41 E% respectively. Men with long higher education had a mean intake of 119 g/10 MJ of vegetables and 37 E% of fat. For women, the corresponding figures for the intake of vegetables and fat were 131 g/10 MJ and 38 E% and 175 g/10 MJ and 37 E%, respectively. For women, age, income and household composition were also significantly associated with the intake of fruit and vegetables.
They concluded that education seems to be the most important social variable to explain social differences in dietary habits. The scientists added that variables are needed to explain dietary habits of women.
Full findings are published in the current issue of European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001) 55, no. 11 pp. 959-966.