A new study in Europe suggests that people with higher educational status are more likely to get healthy food options, especially in low income countries. Pixabay

Education could play a role in people’s quality of diet. Researchers have found that people with higher educational status are more likely to get healthy food options, especially in low income countries.

The new study, published in PLOS ONE, analyzed nutritional data on 27,334 individuals from 12 countries across Europe. Researchers at the University of Leeds looked into the link between socioeconomic status, education and diet.

Results showed that as education level increases a person becomes more likely to have better nutritional intake and to follow a healthy diet. Most participants with high educational status took more iron and total folate, MedicalXpress reported.

“Our study shows that national income and diet quality appear to be linked, and education could protect against some of the long-term negative effects of poor nutrition on population health,” Holly Rippin, lead study author and a World Health Organization (WHO) consultant, said. “Strategies supporting education in lower education groups and lower income countries could be effective in improving nutrition, particularly in disadvantaged groups.”

Rippin and her colleagues worked with the WHO Regional Office for Europe to collect data for the study. The team said their study is the first to use national diet survey data from WHO European Member States.

WHO has been encouraging countries to launch national diet surveys to help establish new policies that focus on public health and prevention of diseases linked to poor diet and malnutrition, such as obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

In 2018, 59 percent of adults in the WHO European Region appeared overweight or obese. Noncommunicable diseases also became the leading cause of death, disease and disability in the region in the same year.

The Leeds researchers said that their latest study may provide information to government leaders for efforts to promote good nutrition. The team also hopes to see new public health policies that prioritize lower education groups.

“This was a great collaborative effort between 12 European countries,” Janet Cade, study co-author and a professor of nutritional epidemiology and public health at Leeds, said. “We hope that policymakers across Europe will use this information to inform their nutrition policies in the future and prioritize these vulnerable groups.”