Poverty linked to unhealthy diets

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The Independent Online
GROWING disparities in income are reflected in the food people eat, according to the survey, writes David Nicholson-Lord. There is a 'strong link' between wealth and diet.

The affluent are more likely to eat fresh fruit and vegetables regularly, to have a varied diet, and to say they try to eat healthily, than those on a lower income, according to Peter Ayton, Mintel's head or research.

'People who are dependent on state benefits have the least varied diet and are least concerned about healthy eating, maybe because they can't afford to be. Families on a tight budget are the most avid snackers, but the snack is more likely to be crisps or sweets than an apple or a carrot.'

Those who rely solely on state benefits feel they have a monotonous diet, according to the survey, which confirms previous studies linking poverty and bad eating habits.

People are also spending more on repairs, of items such as shoes, clothing, furniture, televisions and videos, and cars. Mintel describes this as a 'recessionary trend towards making do rather than buying new'.

Other changes in lifestyle include a shift towards entertaining at home and a related decline in pub-going, and a move within reading habits from books to magazines and newspapers.

The boom in eating-out during the 1980s has levelled off.

British Lifestyles 1994; pounds 895 , Mintel, 18-19 Long Lane, London EC1A 9HE.

(Graphs omitted)