Socioeconomic inequalities in food purchasing practices and expenditure patterns: Results from a cross-sectional household survey in western Kenya.
Frontiers in Public Health 2023 ; 11: 943523.
PubMed ID : 36778539
PMCID : PMC9909229
Socioeconomic inequalities contribute to poor health. Inequitable access to diverse and healthy foods can be a risk factor for non-communicable diseases, especially in individuals of low socioeconomic status. We examined the extent of socioeconomic inequalities in food purchasing practices, expenditure, and consumption in a resource-poor setting in Kenya.
We conducted a secondary analysis of baseline cross-sectional data from a natural experimental study with a sample size of 512 individuals from 376 households in western Kenya. Data were collected on household food sources, expenditure and food consumption. Household socioeconomic status (SES) was assessed using the multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) model. Concentration indices (Ci) and multivariable linear regression models were used to establish socioeconomic inequalities.
About half (47.9%) of individuals achieved a minimum level of dietary diversity with the majority coming from wealthier households. The two most consumed food groups were grains and roots (97.5%, = 499) and dark green leafy vegetables (73.8%, = 378), but these did not vary by SES. The consumption of dark green leafy vegetables was similar across wealth quantiles (Ci = 0.014, = 0.314). Overall, the wealthier households spent significantly more money on food purchases with a median of USD 50 (IQR = 60) in a month compared to the poorest who spent a median of USD 40 (IQR = 40). Of all the sources of food, the highest amount was spent at open-air markets median of USD 20 (IQR = 30) and the expenditure did not vary significantly by SES (Ci = 0.4, = 0.684). The higher the socioeconomic status the higher the total amount spent on food purchases. In multivariable regression analysis, household SES was a significant determinant of food expenditure [Adjusted coefficient = 6.09 (95%confidence interval CI = 2.19, 9.99)].
Wealthier households spent more money on food compared to the poorest households, especially on buying food at supermarkets. Individuals from the poorest households were dominant in eating grains and roots and less likely to consume a variety of food groups, including pulses, dairy, eggs and fruits, and vegetables. Individuals from the poorest households were also less likely to achieve adequate dietary diversity. Deliberate policies on diet and nutrition are required to address socioeconomic inequalities in food purchasing practices.