Social determinants of dietary habits in Denmark

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001 Nov;55(11):959-66. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601251.


Objective: To investigate whether there is an association between socioeconomic status and a healthy diet, taking the possible influence of other social variables such as age, gender, income and household composition into consideration.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Nationwide study in Denmark, 1995.

Subjects: Random sample from the civil registration system. A total of 852 men and 870 women aged 18-80 y participated, a response rate of 58%.

Interventions: A 7 day estimated dietary record was used to obtain information about the diet. Information about social background was gained through face-to-face interview.

Results: The intake of fruit and vegetables and the percentage energy (E%) from fat in the diet were significantly associated with the educational level of both men and women. For men with only basic schooling, the mean intake of vegetables and fat was 84 g/10 MJ and 41 E% respectively. Men with long higher education had a mean intake of 119 g/10 MJ of vegetables and 37 E% of fat. For women, the corresponding figures for the intake of vegetables and fat were 131 g/10 MJ and 38 E% and 175 g/10 MJ and 37 E%, respectively. For women, age, income and household composition were also significantly associated with the intake of fruit and vegetables.

Conclusions: Education seems to be the most important social variable to explain social differences in dietary habits. Additional variables are needed to explain dietary habits of women. Differences are seen for both foods and nutrients.

Sponsorship: The data analysis was financially supported by the Health Insurance Fund.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Denmark
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Educational Status
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fats