Background: Although the inverse association between socioeconomic status (SES) and blood pressure has often been observed, little is known about the relationship between SES and dietary risk factors for elevated blood pressure. Therefore, this study described the distribution of dietary intakes of sodium, potassium, and calcium and examined the association between electrolyte intake and SES among 1784 Black men and women aged 25 to 50 residing in eastern North Carolina.
Methods: Household interviews were conducted in 1988 to obtain information on psychosocial and dietary correlates of blood pressure. Electrolyte intake (mg/day) was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire adapted to reflect regional and ethnic food preferences. SES was categorized into three levels defined by the participant's educational level and occupation.
Results: After adjustment for age and energy intake, potassium and calcium intake increased with increasing SES for both sexes. Sodium intake was high for all groups and did not vary markedly with SES, but sodium to potassium and sodium to calcium ratios decreased with increasing SES. In addition, high SES individuals were more likely to believe that diet affects risk for disease and to report less salt use at the table and less current sodium consumption than in the past.
Conclusion: These data indicate that nutritional beliefs as well as the consumption of electrolytes are associated with SES in Black adults.