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Obes Rev. 2010 Jun;11(6):413-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2009.00658.x. Epub 2009 Nov 3.

A systematic review of studies on socioeconomic inequalities in dietary intakes associated with weight gain and overweight/obesity conducted among European adults.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the


This Review examined socioeconomic inequalities in intakes of dietary factors associated with weight gain, overweight/obesity among adults in Europe. Literature searches of studies published between 1990 and 2007 examining socioeconomic position (SEP) and the consumption of energy, fat, fibre, fruit, vegetables, energy-rich drinks and meal patterns were conducted. Forty-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The direction of associations between SEP and energy intakes were inconsistent. Approximately half the associations examined between SEP and fat intakes showed higher total fat intakes among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. There was some evidence that these groups consume a diet lower in fibre. The most consistent evidence of dietary inequalities was for fruit and vegetable consumption; lower socioeconomic groups were less likely to consume fruit and vegetables. Differences in energy, fat and fibre intakes (when found) were small-to-moderate in magnitude; however, differences were moderate-to-large for fruit and vegetable intakes. Socioeconomic inequalities in the consumption of energy-rich drinks and meal patterns were relatively under-studied compared with other dietary factors. There were no regional or gender differences in the direction and magnitude of the inequalities in the dietary factors examined. The findings suggest that dietary behaviours may contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in overweight/obesity in Europe. However, there is only consistent evidence that fruit and vegetables may make an important contribution to inequalities in weight status across European regions.

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