Social disparities in food preparation behaviours: a DEDIPAC study

Nutr J. 2017 16(1):62

Méjean C, Si Hassen W, Gojard S, Ducrot P, Lampuré A, Brug H, Lien N, Nicolaou M, Holdsworth M, Terragni L, Hercberg S, Castetbon K.

BACKGROUND:

The specific role of major socio-economic indicators in influencing food preparation behaviours could reveal distinct socio-economic patterns, thus enabling mechanisms to be understood that contribute to social inequalities in health. This study investigated whether there was an independent association of each socio-economic indicator (education, occupation, income) with food preparation behaviours.

METHODS:

A total of 62,373 adults participating in the web-based NutriNet-Santé cohort study were included in our cross-sectional analyses. Cooking skills, preparation from scratch and kitchen equipment were assessed using a 0-10-point score; frequency of meal preparation, enjoyment of cooking and willingness to cook better/more frequently were categorical variables. Independent associations between socio-economic factors (education, income and occupation) and food preparation behaviours were assessed using analysis of covariance and logistic regression models stratified by sex. The models simultaneously included the three socio-economic indicators, adjusting for age, household composition and whether or not they were the main cook in the household.

RESULTS:

Participants with the lowest education, the lowest income group and female manual and office workers spent more time preparing food daily than participants with the highest education, those with the highest income and managerial staff (P < 0.0001). The lowest educated individuals were more likely to be non-cooks than those with the highest education level (Women: OR = 3.36 (1.69;6.69); Men: OR = 1.83 (1.07;3.16)) while female manual and office workers and the never-employed were less likely to be non-cooks (OR = 0.52 (0.28;0.97); OR = 0.30 (0.11;0.77)). Female manual and office workers had lower scores of preparation from scratch and were less likely to want to cook more frequently than managerial staff (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001). Women belonging to the lowest income group had a lower score of kitchen equipment (P < 0.0001) and were less likely to enjoy cooking meal daily (OR = 0.68 (0.45;0.86)) than those with the highest income.

CONCLUSION:

Lowest socio-economic groups, particularly women, spend more time preparing food than high socioeconomic groups. However, female manual and office workers used less raw or fresh ingredients to prepare meals than managerial staff. In the unfavourable context in France with reduced time spent preparing meals over last decades, our findings showed socioeconomic disparities in food preparation behaviours in women, whereas few differences were observed in men.