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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Apr;30(2):334-40.

Diet and socioeconomic position: does the use of different indicators matter?

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  • 1Division of Clinical Epidemiology, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland.



To describe the association of diet and socioeconomic position and to assess whether two different indicators, education and occupation, independently contribute in determining diet.


A community-based random sample of men and women residents of Geneva canton, aged 35 to 74, participated in a survey of cardiovascular risk factors conducted annually since 1993. Lifetime occupational and educational history and a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire were obtained from 2929 men and 2767 women.


Subjects from lower education and/or occupation consumed less fish and vegetables but more fried foods, pasta and potatoes, table sugar and beer. Iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D intake were lower in the lower educational and occupational groups. Both indicators significantly contributed to determining a less healthy dietary pattern for those from low social class. The effects of education and occupation on dietary habits were usually additive and synergistic for some food groups.


Assessing both education and occupation, improves the description of social class inequalities in dietary habits, as they act, most of the time, as independent factors.

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