The current study investigated how different aspects of socioeconomic status (SES) and experiencing financial strain are associated with restrained and emotional eating among 42-year-old Finnish women and men. Lower SES is shown to be associated with diets of poorer nutritional quality and obesity. Nevertheless, little research has been done on the association between SES, financial strain and psychological dimensions of eating behaviour. The study was based on questionnaire data from 734 women and 600 men aged 42 years who were participants in a Finnish cohort study. SES was measured through three different dimensions: education, occupation and household income. Data were analyzed using binary logistic regression models. Results showed that restrained eating was associated with higher household income level in women and with higher occupational position in men. Emotional eating was associated with higher financial strain among women. Also, women with lower college education had higher odds for emotional eating compared to women with vocational education or less. Among men, emotional eating was not statistically significantly associated with any of the SES variables nor with financial strain, which may also be due to the very low level of emotional eating reported by men. In conclusion, our findings indicate that restrained eating would be associated with higher status brought by belonging to a higher income or occupational group. Emotional eating, in turn, would be related to experiencing financial strain, rather than to traditional SES dimensions, in women. These results are relevant when health-related interventions are targeted to different SES groups.
Keywords: Dietary restraint; Eating behavior; Emotional eating; Gender; Socioeconomic position.
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