Objective: We measured the difference of dietary intake and eating habits across socioeconomic statuses (SESs) in Israel.
Methods: Participants were randomly recruited from three high SES municipalities and three low SES municipalities in the Negev. Participants were interviewed at home with 24-h food questionnaires that included additional questions regarding health and eating habits. Nutrient and energy intakes were compared between groups, as were major contributors to the energy and food groups.
Results: One hundred sixteen participants from the high SES group and 206 from the low SES entered the study. Those in the low SES group were older, heavier, less educated, and less physically active. Dietary intake among the participants in the low SES group was significantly lower in protein, monounsaturated fat, and most vitamins and minerals (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and iron). Conversely, vitamin E intake was higher in the low SES group. In the low SES group, the main contributors to energy intake were breads, oils, and sugars. Oils, fats, and citrus fruits were consumed more among subjects in the low SES group, whereas dairy products, grains, and legumes were consumed less by subjects in the high SES group.
Conclusion: In a detailed survey conducted in two distinct populations, we found poorer diet quality in the low SES group. The root causes for such divergence need further study. As smoking declines in the modern world, nutrition will become the key risk factor in many diseases. Further research and educational and legislative initiatives are needed to curtail this risk.