People with higher education and income levels are more likely to choose foods higher in nutrients and lower in calories, but they pay more per calorie. That's according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association May 2009 issue. In the study of 164 men and women who completed food frquency questionnaires and four-day diet records, education was a stronger predictor of both energy density and energy cost than was household income. Diets that were pricier per calorie were lower in energy density and contained higher levels of nutrients. Higher dietary energy density was associated with higher intakes of total fat and saturated fat and with lower intakes of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.
Research co-authors Pablo Monsivais, PhD MPH, and Adam Drewnowski, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, indicate the research has implications in studying diet in chronic disease: "Future studies, based on more representative samples, will be needed to elucidate the connections between diet quality and diet cost across socioeconomic strata." Low energy density and high nutrient content have been associated with less weight gain and with lower rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.