Pathways of less healthy diets. An investigation of the everyday food practices of men and women in low income households

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Dietary health is a key theme of health policy and public debates on health and inequality. The social gradient in dietary health is evident, but less is known about the processes in everyday life through which less healthy diets are shaped among people with low socio-economic status. In this mixed methods study we recruited 30 men and women living in low income households in Denmark and combined qualitative interviews about household practices with quantitative estimates of the quality of participants’ diets. The qualitative findings show that in general, the participants’ food practices were conditioned by budget restrictions and bundled with other non-food practices in their everyday life, which in most, but not all, cases conflicted with engagement in healthy eating. Only few participants reported feeling able to provide ‘proper foods’ according to their own preferences. We identified five distinct pathways through which food practices were performed. All were structured by distinct life situations which created different ways in which food practices were bundled with other practices. The quantitative estimates of participants’ diets show that none of the participants’ diets categorized as healthy. The combined analysis showed that estimated dietary quality varied between the five pathways, and that the degree of budget restraint and the practice of handling a disease in the household were notably important for the performance of food practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)318-331
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • budgetary constraint, Dietary health, dietary quality score, food practice, social inequality in health

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