Numerous studies have shown that socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals have less healthy dietary habits, which may contribute to a higher prevalence of obesity and consequently diet-related chronic diseases. Individuals with a lower socioeconomic position (SEP) tend to consume energy-dense foods more frequently, including energy-dense takeaway options, fatty meats and fried foods, compared to their higher socioeconomic counterparts who consume more fruit and vegetables. However, the mechanisms explaining these SEP disparities in dietary intake are not fully understood. Several individual, social and environmental factors are likely to be relevant in this respect, as food choice is a complex process. It has been proposed that motives underlying food selection (e.g., the importance of healthiness and price of the food) play a role in explaining SEP variations in food intakes, but few studies have tested this empirically. In the seminar, results from a population-based sample of Finnish working-age adults are presented and discussed: the study investigated whether the absolute or relative importance of various food choice motives (health, price, pleasure, convenience, familiarity and ethicality) contributed to SEP disparities in vegetable/fruit and energy-dense food intake.

Dr Hanna Konttinen is a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Academy of Finland (2013–2016) and affiliated to the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki. Dr Konttinen completed her PhD (“Dietary Habits and Obesity: the Role of Emotional and Cognitive Factors”) in Social Psychology at the University of Helsinki in 2012. Her research interests further include the role of psychosocial, socioeconomic and genetic factors in dietary intake, weight changes and disease outcomes.

Read the full paper here (PubMed).