Social Capital and Dietary Intakes Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

J Epidemiol. 2019 Mar 5;29(3):92-96. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20170117. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


Background: Previous studies have identified poor dietary intake as a health risk affecting survivors of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. We examined the association between different social factors (eg, living conditions and perceptions of community social capital) and dietary intakes among disaster-affected survivors.

Methods: We studied 6,724 survivors in four municipalities of Iwate Prefecture 3 years after the disaster. Social capital was assessed via four items inquiring about respondents' perceptions of social cohesion in their communities. Good dietary intake was defined according to the following criteria: intake of staple food ≥three times a day; intake of meat, fish and shellfish eggs, or soybean products ≥twice a day; vegetable intake ≥twice a day; and intake of fruit or dairy products ≥once a day. An individual who did not meet any of these criteria was defined as having poor dietary intake. We adjusted for covariates, including socioeconomic status, marital status, and residential area.

Results: Poor dietary intake was reported by 31.6% of respondents. Poisson regression analyses revealed that the following factors were related to poor dietary intake: age <65 years (men: prevalence ratio [PR] 1.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-1.71 and women: PR 1.55; 95% CI, 1.36-1.77), difficulties in living conditions (men: PR 1.18; 95% CI, 1.00-1.39 and women: PR 1.19; 95% CI, 1.01-1.40), and low perceptions of community social capital (women: PR 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04-1.38).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that social capital plays a role in promoting healthy dietary intake among women in disaster-affected areas.

Keywords: Japan; dietary intake; earthquake; social capital; social factor.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cities
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Capital*
  • Social Conditions / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Perception
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Tsunamis*