Heterogeneity of nutritional habits of Lithuanian ethnolinguistic groups: population-based study

  • Audronė Jakaitienė
  • Donatas Austys
  • Neringa Burokienė
  • Vytautas Kasiulevičius
  • Rimantas Stukas
  • Vaidutis Kučinskas
Keywords: nutrition, life style, overweight, social determinants of health, Lithuanian population, public health


Background. Lithuania is a  Northern European country consisting of two main ethnolinguistic groups: Samogitians and Highlanders. The objective of the  paper is to investigate differences in nutritional habits of 18–65-year-old Lithuanians living in different ethnolinguistic regions. Materials and methods. A representative, population-based, random sample of the  18–65-year-old ethnic Lithuanian population was interviewed from 17  December 2008 to 20  May 2013. Lithuanians living in their ethnolinguistic region for at least three generations were included (n = 1,133). We analysed responses to 12 questions about nutritional habits of respondents. For the univariate analysis, we applied the chi-squared test. For the clusterisation of the survey questions, we employed a multiple correspondence analysis (MCA). Results. Comparing Samogitians’ and Highlanders’ responses according to their gender, education, and place of residence, we observed more often significant differences (p < 0.05) for the urban population, respondents without higher education, and women. The nutrition of Highlanders was more consistent with national and WHO nutritional recommendations. Significant differences were obtained in the  consumption of fish (p = 1.9 · 10–12), milk (p = 1.8 · 10–4) and grain products (p = 0.01). MCA revealed that all questions fall into three groups with a different composition for Samogitians and Highlanders. We failed to demonstrate the impact of different nutritional habits on the body mass index. Conclusions. According to the univariate and multivariate analysis, the nutritional habits of Lithuanian ethnolinguistic regions are heterogeneous. Dependency on an ethnolinguistic region might be considered an important factor for the preparation of appropriate health and nutrition education and disease prevention programmes. The issue of excess weight remains equally important for both ethnolinguistic groups.