The association between socio-economic position and diet quality in Australian adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We aimed to investigate the association between multiple measures of socio-economic position (SEP) and diet quality, using a diet quality index representing current national dietary guidelines, in the Australian adult population. Design: Cross-sectional study. Linear regression analyses were used to estimate the association between indicators of SEP (educational attainment, level of income and area-level disadvantage) and diet quality (measured using the Dietary Guideline Index (DGI)) in the total sample and stratified by sex and age (≤55 years and >55 years). Setting: A large randomly selected sample of the Australian adult population. Subjects: Australian adults (n 9296; aged ≥25 years) from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Results: A higher level of educational attainment and income and a lower level of area-level disadvantage were significantly associated with a higher DGI score, across the gradient of SEP. The association between indicators of SEP and DGI score was consistently stronger among those aged ≤55 years compared with their older counterparts. The most disadvantaged group had a DGI score between 2 and 5 units lower (depending on the marker of SEP) compared with the group with the least disadvantage. Conclusions: A higher level of SEP was consistently associated with a higher level of diet quality for all indicators of SEP examined. In order to reduce socio-economic inequalities in diet quality, healthy eating initiatives need to act across the gradient of socio-economic disadvantage with a proportionate focus on those with greater socio-economic disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Diet quality
  • Education
  • Obesity
  • Socio-economic position

Cite this