UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Associations between socio-economic status and school-day dietary intake in a sample of grade 5–8 students in Vancouver, Canada Ahmadi, Naseam; Black, Jennifer L.; Velazquez, Cayley E.; Chapman, Gwen E.; Veenstra, Gerry


Objective: To examine associations between students’ socio-economic status (SES) and school-day dietary intake, and the roles of parents and peers in shaping these associations. Design: A cross-sectional survey measured school-day intake of vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, packaged snack foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Logistic regression models examined associations between SES (parental education and food insecurity status) and dietary outcomes during or en route to or from school, and examined whether peer modelling or parental norms potentially mediated the associations between SES and dietary outcomes. Setting: Twenty-six public schools in Vancouver, Canada in 2012. Subjects: Nine hundred and fifty students in grades 5–8. Results: Students whose parents completed some college, compared with those completing high school or less, were significantly more likely to consume vegetables daily (unadjusted OR = 1⋅85; 95 % CI 1⋅06, 3⋅22) and students whose parents completed college or university were significantly less likely to consume sugarsweetened beverages daily (unadjusted OR = 0⋅67; 95 % CI 0⋅47, 0⋅94). Food secure students were also significantly less likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily compared with food insecure students (unadjusted OR = 0⋅52; 95 % CI 0⋅29, 0⋅92). Parental norms, but not peer modelling, emerged as a potential mediator of the association between SES and vegetable intake. SES was not significantly associated with the remaining dietary outcomes. Conclusions: Higher SES was significantly associated with two of five school-day dietary outcomes and predicted higher likelihood of daily nutritious food choices at school. The study suggests that there is room for improvement in school-day dietary quality for students from all SES backgrounds in Vancouver.

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