British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Socio-demographic influences on trends of fish consumption during later adult life in the Whitehall II study

Tasnime N. Akbaralya1 c1 and Eric J. Brunnera1

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK


Our aim was to investigate how socio-demographic factors influence trends and age-related trajectories of fish consumption. We examined consumption of total, fried and recommended fish (white and oily fish, and shellfish) in the Whitehall II study over 11 years in participants aged 39–59 years at phase 3. The cohort included 8358 British civil servants who completed a FFQ at phase 3 (1991–3), phase 5 (1997–9, n 5430) and phase 7 (2002–4, n 5692). Occupational grade, ethnicity, marital and retirement status were collected at each phase. To analyse changes in age-related trends of fish intake over time according to socio-demographic characteristics, we applied a random mixed-effect model. Over the follow-up a significant increase in consumption of ‘recommended’ (mean: 1·85 to 2·22 portions/week) and total fish (mean: 2·32 to 2·65 portions/week) and a decreasing trend in fried-fish intake (mean: 0·47 to 0·43 portions/week) was observed. Recommended, fried and total fish consumption differed by occupational status, ethnicity, marital status and sex. The trend of age-related fish intake diverged significantly by ethnicity. In South Asian participants (n 432), slope of recommended-fish consumption was significantly higher compared with white participants (0·077 v. 0·025 portions/week per year). For black participants (n 275) slope of fried-fish intake was significantly higher compared with white participants (0·0052 v. − 0·0025 portions/week per year). In terms of public health, our descriptive and analytical work allows detailed understanding of the impact of socio-demographic factors on fish intake and its age-related trends. Such information is valuable for food policies that seek to promote health equity.

(Received October 24 2007)

(Revised January 28 2008)

(Accepted February 28 2008)

(Online publication May 29 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Tasnime N. Akbaraly, fax+44 20 7419 6732, email