Open Access Research article

Socioeconomic and demographic factors are associated with dietary patterns in a cohort of young Brazilian adults

Soraia Pinheiro Machado Arruda1, Antônio Augusto Moura da Silva2, Gilberto Kac3, Marcelo Zubaran Goldani4, Heloisa Bettiol5 and Marco Antônio Barbieri5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, State University of Ceará, Coordination of Nutrition Course, Av. Paranjana, 1700, Itapery, Fortaleza, CE 60.740-000, Brazil

2 Department of Public Health, Federal University of Maranhão, Rua Barão de Itapary, 155, Centro, São Luís, Maranhão 65.020-070, Brazil

3 Department of Applied Social Nutrition, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Av. Brigadeiro Trompowsky, s/n, bloco J, 2° andar, sala 29, Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro 21.941-590, Brazil

4 Department of Pediatrics and Puericulture, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Rua Ramiro Barcellos, 2350, Bonfim, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90.035-003, Brazil

5 Department of Puericulture and Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine de Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Av. Bandeirantes, 3900, Monte Alegre, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo 14.049-900, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:654  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-654

Published: 26 June 2014



The aim of the present study was to identify the main dietary patterns among young adults and to investigate the association of socioeconomic and demographic factors, and social mobility with dietary patterns.


Data from the fourth follow-up of the 1978/79 Ribeirão Preto birth cohort study, Brazil, were used. A total of 2,061 young adults, whose mothers gave sociodemographic information at birth in 1978–79, provided sociodemographic and dietary data through a validated food frequency questionnaire in 2002–2004, when they were aged 23–25 years. Those whose caloric intake was outside of the ±3 standard deviation range were excluded, leaving 2,034 individuals. The dietary patterns were identified by principal component analysis followed by varimax orthogonal rotation. Poisson regression with robust estimation of variance was used to derive prevalence ratios (PR).


Four dietary patterns were identified: healthy, traditional Brazilian, energy-dense and bar. In the adjusted analysis, individuals with higher schooling (≥12 years) in adult life (PR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.07-2.14) showed greater adherence whilst men (PR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.68-0.93) had lower adherence to the healthy pattern. The highest adherence to the traditional Brazilian pattern was found for men (PR = 2.39, 95% CI: 2.04-2.80), mullatos (PR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.21-1.64), households with ≥2 members, and for those with children (PR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.07-1.55) while individuals with higher schooling in adulthood (≥12 years) (PR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.34-0.65), higher family income in adulthood (≥20 MW) (PR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.33-0.99) and higher family income at birth (≥6.1 MW) showed lower adherence. The bar pattern was positively associated with male sex (PR = 2.96, 95% CI: 2.47-3.55) and low schooling (≤8 years). The energy-dense pattern was not associated with any of the variables investigated. Social mobility was associated with the traditional Brazilian pattern. Men and women who were not poor at birth and remained so in adulthood showed lower adherence to this pattern (PR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.53-0.94 for men and PR = 0.40, 95% CI: 0.20-0.80 for women).


Four different dietary patterns were identified among young adults. Socioeconomic and demographic factors, and social mobility were associated with food choices.

Dietary patterns; Socioeconomic factors; Young adults; Social mobility; Cohort study