Income and 'healthy' eating practices.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis sought a greater understanding of the social variables that influence diet and dietary change using a repertoire of research methods.
The studies of the present thesis, like all studies, have methodological limitations and possible biases. However, after considering the problems of each study, it seems reasonable to make the following conclusions; 1) the poor were spending a greater proportion of their income on food, than people living on higher incomes; 2) providing food (and therefore health) for the family was the main responsibility of a woman in the household; 3) that all the individuals in the Income Charge study were meeting their basic food needs; 4) there was a strong desire to maintain 'mainstream' or 'normal' social eating practices following an involuntary decrease in household income; 5) there is an 'inverted V' relationship between income and variety with £20,000 as a turning point; 6) lower income families focus on meals rather than on the individual value of individual foods and on cost and taste of the food rather than its nutritional content; 7) the impact of a change in income on meal patterns, although variable from one individual to the next, was significant in most cases; 8) income was associated with dietary variety per se; 9) food changes evidence from the Income Change Study may support the view that less healthy eating in low-income groups may be a consequence of less healthy eating when a household income decreases involuntarily and 10) different subtle calculations of measures of income were found to have little notable impact on results and it was assumed that these measures could be used interchangeably in future studies as equivalence was good.
For future research into the area of income and 'healthy' eating practices, the following recommendations were made: 1) studies need to have a fully comprehensive list of income and outgoings; 2) dietary interventions and health promotion activities need to consider advocating variety at each mealtime wherever possible; and 3) studies need to examine the possibilities that a change in income affects weight management in greater depth using objective tools where possible.
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