Last Wednesday, Public Health England (PHE) published the combined results from Years 1, 2, 3 and 4 (2008/09 – 2011/12) of the National Diet and Nutrition Study Rolling Programme. For the first time, we’ve looked at what people are eating by income.
Reducing inequalities has been a core aim of health policy for the current (and previous) government. There’s already evidence that those on low incomes have a ‘less healthy’ diet with fewer fruit and vegetables and more high fat and high sugar foods than recommended.
The new report shows that adults and children in households on the lowest income consume fewer fruit and vegetables than those in households with the highest income. For teenage boys only 3% in the lowest income households achieve “5-a-day” compared with 18% in the highest income households.
For energy and macronutrients such as fat and protein, differences between income groups are most marked in women aged 19 to 64, with intakes 7-10% lower in the bottom income households compared with the top. For both men and women, intakes of non-milk extrinsic sugars (or added sugars) tend to be higher in the bottom income households compared with the top while non-starch polysaccharides (fibre) intakes are lower.
There are also clear income differences in intakes of both vitamin C and folate, with lower intakes in the bottom income households for adults and children. Women aged 19 to 64 years in the bottom income households are at greater risk of inadequate iron intakes than those in the top income households.
Most of the income differences are seen in adults and some of the findings support the need to target efforts in improving the diet of those in the lowest income households, particularly women.
The report is published on PHE’s website.