The Changing Pattern of Nutrition Intake by Social Class in Contemporary China, 1991-2011

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Abstract

Objectives

To explore the changing pattern of nutrition intake by social class in contemporary China.

Methods

We defined social class in 2 ways. The first definition was based on employment, and the second definition was based on per capita household income levels. We used China Health and Nutrition Survey data from 1991 to 2011 to show the changes in the relation between social class and nutrition intake.

Results

The relation between social class and nutrition intake in China changed significantly within the 2 decades. For example, in the early 1990s, the lowest social class (defined by employment or income) had more caloric intake than did the highest social class; 20 years later, however, the relation reversed, and the lowest social class consumed significantly fewer calories.

Conclusions

China has seen a great reversal in its social class-nutrition relationship since the early 1990s. Our study calls for wider recognition that insufficient consumption of food and nutrition is increasingly an issue for people in the lower social classes in China.

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