Objective: Unfavourable dietary habits might explain a part of the increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among the lower socioeconomic groups. The aim of the study was to describe differences in dietary intake in older subjects by socioeconomic status, as indicated by educational level. Design: A cross-sectional analysis of socioeconomic status in relation to dietary intake. Setting: The Rotterdam Study. Subjects: 2213 men and 3193 women, aged 55y and over living between 1990 and 1993 in a district of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Methods: Dietary data were assessed with a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire, containing 170 food items in 13 food groups. Results: In general, the dietary differences between socioeconomic groups were small. Lower educated subjects had a higher intake of almost all macronutrients compared with higher educated subjects. The total energy intake of men/women with the lowest educational level differed from those with the highest education in the following respect: 9.60/7.54 vs 8.94/7.17 MJ/day. Furthermore, fat composition was more adverse in the lower educated strata; in lower educated subjects, relatively more energy was derived from saturated fat (14.5/14.6 vs 13.8/13.8 energy%), the ratio of polyunsaturated saturated fat was lower (for men: 0.50 vs 0.55) and the intake of cholesterol higher (271/220 vs 240/204 mg/day). These differences could be explained by a higher intake of visible fat (46/37 vs 44/34 g/day) and more meat consumption (130/100 vs 116/86 g/day). In addition, the composition of these products differed: the higher educated used relatively more lean meat and low-fat milk products. Furthermore, the intake of fibre was lower among the lower educated (1.88/2.17 vs 2.03/2.29 g/MJ). Among lower educated groups there were more abstainers (15.5/31.5 vs 12.3/26.9%) and the type of alcoholic beverages also differed between the groups. Intake of antioxidant vitamins from food alone did not differ between educational groups. Conclusions: In Dutch elderly people, there are socioeconomic differences in dietary intake. Although these differences are small, these findings support the role of diet in the explanation of socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular health.

doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600914, hdl.handle.net/1765/56604
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Rossum, C., van de Mheen, D., Witteman, J., Grobbee, D., & Mackenbach, J. (2000). Education and nutrient intake in Dutch elderly people. The Rotterdam Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54(2), 159–165. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600914