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Diets low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, are the major contributors to the burden of chronic diseases globally( 1 ). Previous research, and studies in this issue of Public Health Nutrition, show that unhealthy diets are more commonly observed among socio-economically disadvantaged groups and are key contributors to their higher rates of chronic disease( 2 – 4 ). Most research examining socio-economic inequalities in diet and body weight has been descriptive and has focused on identifying the nature, extent and direction of the inequalities. These types of studies are clearly necessary and important. We need, however, to move beyond description of the problem and focus much more on the question of why inequalities in diet and body weight exist. Furthering our understanding of this question will provide the necessary evidence base to develop effective interventions to reduce the inequalities. The challenge of tackling dietary inequalities, however, does not finish here: a maximally effective approach will also require equity-based policies that address the unequal population distribution of social and economic resources, which is the fundamental root-cause of dietary and body weight inequalities.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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