Introduction: Low socio-economic status (SES) is associated with health risk behaviours contributing to the social inequalities in health. However, the associations of dietary habits with socio-economic status have not been investigated in emerging adulthood in detail yet.
Aim: To investigate the associations of dietary habits with socio-economic status in 1st year undergraduate university students.
Methods: This cross-sectional analysis draws data from the LATO study, a longitudinal study of all 1st year undergraduate students of TEI Crete during the academic year 2012/13 (Ν=1138, 54% girls, Mean age 18,31 years, response rate 96,7%). The consumption frequencies of fruits, vegetables, soft drinks, breakfast and delivery food were associated with the following socio-economic indicators: Family affluence (FAS II), paternal and maternal educational level and self-reported economic status. The SPSS v21.0 was used to perform logistic regression models after adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: Only 24,9%, 12% and 17% of the students were consuming breakfast, fruits and vegetables, respectively, in a daily basis. Soft drinks were consumed daily by 6,1% of the participants but most of them consumed delivery/junk food less than 1/week (73,8%). Higher family affluence was associated with increased odds of consuming breakfast (OR=2,90, 95%CI=1,13-7,44), soft drinks (OR=8,10, 95%CI=1,38-47,68) and delivery/junk food (OR=2,44, 95%CI=1,27-4,70) in boys. High paternal educational level was associated in a protective way with boys’ consumption of delivery food (OR=0,42, 95%CI=0,18-0,95) and soft drinks (OR=0,19, 95%CI=0,05-0,72). Fruits and vegetables consumption was not associated with any SES indicator.
Conclusions: The majority of 1st year university students were not following current diet recommendations irrespective of SES. Interventions targeting eating behaviours are needed at higher education institutes.
Key words: eating habits, socio-economic status, fruits, vegetables, breakfast