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The impact of change in socioeconomic status (SES) from childhood to adulthood (SES mobility) on adult diet is not well understood. This study examined associations between three SES mobility variables (area disadvantage, education, occupation), and adult diet quality. 1,482 Australian participants reported childhood area-level SES in 1985 (aged 10-15 years) and retrospectively reported parental education and occupation level (up to age 12), and own area-level SES, education, occupation, and dietary intake in 2004-06 (aged 26-36 years). SES mobility was the change from childhood to adulthood. A Dietary Guidelines Index was calculated from food frequency and food habits questionnaires. A higher index score (range 0-100) indicated better diet quality. Sex-stratified linear regression models adjusted for confounders. Area-level SES mobility was not associated with diet quality. Compared to stable high (university) education, stable low (school only) was associated with lower DGI scores (males: β=-5.5, 95% CI: -8.9,-2.1; females: β=-6.3, 95% CI: -9.3,-3.4), as was downward educational mobility (participant's education lower than their parents) (males: β=-5.3, 95% CI: -8.5,-2.0; females: β=-4.5, 95% CI: -7.2,-1.7), and stable intermediate (vocational) education among males (β=-3.9, 95% CI: -7.0,-0.7). Compared to stable high (professional/managerial) occupation, stable low (manual/out of workforce) males had lower DGI scores (β=-4.9, 95% CI: -7.6,-2.2), as did both sexes with downward occupation mobility (males: β=-3.2, 95% CI: -5.3,-1.1; females: β=-2.8, 95% CI: -4.8,-0.8). In this Australian cohort, intergenerational low education and occupation attainment, and downward educational and occupational mobility for the individual compared to their parents, was associated with poor adult diet quality.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Nutr

Publication Date



1 - 27


childhood, cohort study, education, nutrition, socioeconomic status