OUP user menu

Use of butter and cheese in 10 European countries
A case of contrasting educational differences

Ritva S. Prättälä, Margit V. Groth, Ulrich S. Oltersdorf, Gun M. Roos, Wlodzimierz Sekula, Helena M. Tuomainen
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/13.2.124 124-132 First published online: 1 June 2003

Abstract

Background: This paper aims to analyse socioeconomic variation in the use of cheese and butter in Europe by reviewing existing dietary surveys. It explores whether socioeconomic differences in the intake of these foods follow a similar pattern in all countries. Methods: An overview of available studies on socioeconomic differences in food habits in Europe over the period 1985–1997 was performed. Twenty studies from 10 countries included information on cheese and butter. A simple directional vote‐counting method was used to register the association between educational level and consumption of cheese and butter (animal fat) for each study. FAO's food balance sheets were used to classify the countries according to consumption trends of these foodstuffs. Results: In all countries higher social classes used more cheese than lower classes. The results for butter were less consistent. In the Nordic countries higher social classes used less butter than lower ones. In the other countries an opposite pattern or no differences could be observed. However, in countries where the use of both butter and animal fats could be analysed, animal fats were used more by the lower social classes. Conclusions: Higher and lower socioeconomic groups have different sources of saturated fats. Higher social classes use more cheese whereas lower social classes use more butter or animal fats. This can be observed especially in countries where the consumption of cheese is increasing and that of butter decreasing. Higher social classes prefer modern foods, lower classes traditional foods.

  • butter; cheese; European countries; modern and traditional foods; socioeconomic differences

Received 20 September 2001. Accepted 15 April 2002.