Socioeconomic differences in purchases of more vs. less healthy foods and beverages: Analysis of over 25,000 British households in 2010
Social Science & Medicine 2013
Socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health outcomes are well-recognised, but are not fully explained by observational studies of consumption. We provide a novel analysis to identify purchasing patterns more precisely, based on data for take-home food and beverage purchases from 25,674 British households in 2010. To examine socioeconomic differences (measured by occupation), we conducted regression analyses on the proportion of energy purchased from (a) each of 43 food or beverage categories and (b) major nutrients. Results showed numerous small category-level socioeconomic differences. Aggregation of the categories showed lower SES groups generally purchased a greater proportion of energy from less healthy foods and beverages than those in higher SES groups (65% and 60%, respectively), while higher SES groups purchased a greater proportion of energy from healthier food and beverages (28% vs. 24%). At the nutrient-level, socioeconomic differences were less marked, although higher SES was associated with purchasing greater proportions of fibre, protein and total sugars, and smaller proportions of sodium. The observed pattern of purchasing across SES groups contributes to the explanation of observed health differences between groups and highlights targets for interventions to reduce health inequalities.