Measuring socio-economic position in dietary research: is choice of socio-economic indicator important

Turrell, Gavin, Hewitt, Belinda, Patterson, Carla and Oldenburg, Brian (2003) Measuring socio-economic position in dietary research: is choice of socio-economic indicator important. Public Health Nutrition, 6 2: 191-200. doi:10.1079/PHN2002416

Author Turrell, Gavin
Hewitt, Belinda
Patterson, Carla
Oldenburg, Brian
Title Measuring socio-economic position in dietary research: is choice of socio-economic indicator important
Journal name Public Health Nutrition   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1475-2727
Publication date 2003-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1079/PHN2002416
Volume 6
Issue 2
Start page 191
End page 200
Total pages 10
Place of publication Wallingford, Oxon, UK
Publisher Published on behalf of the Nutrition Society by CAB International
Language eng
Subject 111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
To examine the association between socio-economic position (SEP) and diet, by assessing the unadjusted and simultaneously adjusted (independent) contributions of education, occupation and household income to food purchasing behaviour


The sample was randomly selected using a stratified two-stage cluster design, and the response rate was 66.4%. Data were collected by face-to-face interview. Food purchasing was examined on the basis of three composite indices that reflected a household's choice of grocery items (including meat and chicken), fruit and vegetables Setting: Brisbane City, Australia, 2000 Participants: Non-institutionalised residents of private dwellings (n = 1003), located in 50 small areas (Census Collectors Districts)

When shopping, respondents in lower socio-economic groups were less likely to purchase grocery foods that were high in fibre and low in fat, salt and sugar. Disadvantaged groups purchased fewer types of fresh fruits and vegetables, and less often, than their counterparts from more advantaged backgrounds. When the relationship between SEP and food purchasing was examined using each indicator separately, education and household income made an unadjusted contribution to purchasing behaviour for all three food indices; however, occupation was significantly related only with the purchase of grocery foods. When education and occupation were simultaneously adjusted for each other, the socio-economic patterning with food purchase remained largely unchanged, although the strength of the associations was attenuated. When household income was introduced into the analysis, the association between education, occupation and food purchasing behaviour was diminished or became non-significant; income, however, showed a strong, graded association with food choice


The food purchasing behaviours of socio-economically disadvantaged groups were least in accord with dietary guideline recommendations, and hence are more consistent with greater risk for the development of diet-related disease. The use of separate indicators for education, occupation and household income each adds something unique to our understanding of how socio-economic position is related to diet: each indicator reflects a different underlying social process and hence they are not interchangeable, and do not serve as adequate proxies for one another. 
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Social Science Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 98 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 111 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 06 Feb 2009, 12:11:37 EST by Ms Julie Anne Hansen on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences