Social status and the consumption of highly processed foods in Nigeria

Mekonnen, Daniel A.; Achterbosch, Thom; Ruben, Ruerd


Food has been used to define social classes and as a means of embodying the ‘good life.’ Depending on the food culture and food environment, certain foods may be consumed more by the relatively higher income groups and therefore are perceived as ‘positional.’ This study examines whether social status—proxied by the relative consumption expenditures (the rank in the consumption expenditure distribution) and the relative deprivation in consumption expenditures—can explain household food choices. Based on the nationally representative Nigeria General Household Panel Surveys and using fixed effects estimations, we find that consumption of highly processed foods is strongly associated with the social status of the household. We observe differences amongst highly processed foods consumed at home and away from home, across geographic locations and consumption expenditure terciles. The results of this study provide suggestive evidence that reducing income inequality is required to support healthier household food preferences beyond social status.