COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

The contribution of three components of nutrition knowledge to socio-economic differences in food purchasing choices

Loretta McKinnon, Katrina Giskes, Gavin Turrell
Public Health Nutrition 2014, 17 (8): 1814-24
23920283

OBJECTIVES: To assess socio-economic differences in three components of nutrition knowledge, i.e. knowledge of (i) the relationship between diet and disease, (ii) the nutrient content of foods and (iii) dietary guideline recommendations; furthermore, to determine if socio-economic differences in nutrition knowledge contribute to inequalities in food purchasing choices.

DESIGN: The cross-sectional study considered household food purchasing, nutrition knowledge, socio-economic and demographic information. Household food purchasing choices were summarised by three indices, based on self-reported purchasing of sixteen groceries, nineteen fruits and twenty-one vegetables. Socio-economic position (SEP) was measured by household income and education. Associations between SEP, nutrition knowledge and food purchasing were examined using general linear models adjusted for age, gender, household type and household size.

SETTING: Brisbane, Australia in 2000.

SUBJECTS: Main household food shoppers (n 1003, response rate 66·4 %), located in fifty small areas (Census Collectors Districts).

RESULTS: Shoppers in households of low SEP made food purchasing choices that were less consistent with dietary guideline recommendations: they were more likely to purchase grocery foods comparatively higher in salt, sugar and fat, and lower in fibre, and they purchased a narrower range of fruits and vegetables. Those of higher SEP had greater nutrition knowledge and this factor attenuated most associations between SEP and food purchasing choices. Among nutrition knowledge factors, knowledge of the relationship between diet and disease made the greatest and most consistent contribution to explaining socio-economic differences in food purchasing.

CONCLUSIONS: Addressing inequalities in nutrition knowledge is likely to reduce socio-economic differences in compliance with dietary guidelines. Improving knowledge of the relationship between diet and disease appears to be a particularly relevant focus for health promotion aimed to reduce socio-economic differences in diet and related health inequalities.

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