Socio-Economic Differences in Food Group and Nutrient Intakes Among Young Women in Ireland

Daniel McCartney, Technological University Dublin
Katherine Younger, Technological University Dublin
Joanne Walsh, Technological University Dublin
Marie O'Neill, Technological University Dublin
Claire Sheridan, Technological University Dublin
John Kearney, Technological University Dublin

Document Type Article

British Journal of Nutrition, December, 2014, Vol. 110 (11), p. 2084-97.

doi: 10.1017/S0007114513001463


The present study aimed to investigate socio-economic disparities in food and nutrient intakes among young Irish women. A total of 221 disadvantaged and seventy-four non-disadvantaged women aged 18-35 years were recruited. Diet was assessed using a diet history protocol. Of the total population, 153 disadvantaged and sixty-three non-disadvantaged women were classified as plausible dietary reporters. Food group intakes, nutrient intakes and dietary vitamin and mineral concentrations per MJ of energy consumed were compared between the disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged populations, as was compliance with dietary fibre, macronutrient and micronutrient intake guidelines. The disadvantaged women had lower intakes than the non-disadvantaged women of fruit, vegetables, fish, breakfast cereals, low-fat milk and wholemeal bread (all P< 0·001), yogurt (P= 0·001), low-fat spread (P= 0·002) and fresh meat (P= 0·003). They also had higher intakes of butter, processed red meats, white bread, sugar-sweetened beverages, fried potatoes and potato-based snacks (all P< 0·001) and full-fat milk (P= 0·014). Nutritionally, the disadvantaged women had higher fat, saturated fat and refined sugar intakes; lower dietary fibre, vitamin and mineral intakes; and lower dietary vitamin and mineral densities per MJ than their more advantaged peers. Non-achievement of carbohydrate (P= 0·017), fat (P< 0·001), saturated fat (P< 0·001), refined sugar (P< 0·001), folate (P= 0·050), vitamin C (P< 0·001), vitamin D (P= 0·047) and Ca (P= 0·019) recommendations was more prevalent among the disadvantaged women. Both groups showed poor compliance with Fe and Na guidelines. We conclude that the nutritional deficits present among these socially disadvantaged women are significant, but may be potentially ameliorated by targeted food-based interventions.