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Objective We aimed to investigate the association between multiple measures of socio-economic position (SEP) and diet quality, using a diet quality index representing current national dietary guidelines, in the Australian adult population. Design Cross-sectional study. Linear regression analyses were used to estimate the association between indicators of SEP (educational attainment, level of income and area-level disadvantage) and diet quality (measured using the Dietary Guideline Index (DGI)) in the total sample and stratified by sex and age (≤55 years and >55 years). Setting A large randomly selected sample of the Australian adult population. Subjects Australian adults (n 9296; aged ≥25 years) from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Results A higher level of educational attainment and income and a lower level of area-level disadvantage were significantly associated with a higher DGI score, across the gradient of SEP. The association between indicators of SEP and DGI score was consistently stronger among those aged ≤55 years compared with their older counterparts. The most disadvantaged group had a DGI score between 2 and 5 units lower (depending on the marker of SEP) compared with the group with the least disadvantage. Conclusions A higher level of SEP was consistently associated with a higher level of diet quality for all indicators of SEP examined. In order to reduce socio-economic inequalities in diet quality, healthy eating initiatives need to act across the gradient of socio-economic disadvantage with a proportionate focus on those with greater socio-economic disadvantage.

Original publication




Journal article


Public Health Nutrition

Publication Date





477 - 485