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Johns Hopkins researchers examine why people eat the foods they do

People purchase foods based on their income level, their belief in a foods health benefit and cost. However, ethnicity and gender also impact peoples food choices, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, published in the March 7, 2007, advance online publication of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reports that food choice is also influenced by environmental factors, such as reliance on fast food, food advertising and food pricing, and on individual factors, such as taste, palatability, convenience and health benefits.

The study sample included 4,356 U.S. adults aged 20-65 years from two nationally-representative cross-sectional surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the Diet and Health Knowledge Survey. The Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition researchers examined diet quality indicators, such as the amount of energy, energy density, total fat and saturated fat in foods consumed by study participants. They also considered the quantity of fruits and vegetables, fiber, calcium and dairy products consumed and the overall quality of peoples diet, which was assessed using two indices, including one recommended by the USDA. The key findings are as follows:

  • There are considerable ethnic and gender differences in the association between socio-economic status, perceived barrier of food price, perceived benefit of diet quality and dietary intake.
  • Income constraints on individuals and families can lead to a poorer quality diet. When buying food, African-Americans with lower incomes saw food price as more important than Whites with the same income level did.
  • Caucasians of lower socio-economic status ate more fat and saturated fat. African-Americans showed no association between income level and fat intake.
  • Among all study participants, and independent of income, the perceived ba
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Contact: Kenna L. Lowe
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-439-3327
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
26-Mar-2007


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