Despite many efforts, nutritional health interventions have been largely unable to reduce health inequalities between less- and more-educated individuals, since their effectiveness among the former is often limited. Conventionally, adverse financial circumstances and poorer health literacy are argued to explain this. Drawing on recent sociological insights, we propose a complementing and novel sociocultural explanation based on how contemporary power relations in society breed anti-institutionalism among less-educated individuals. Using a survey of a representative sample of the Dutch population (n = 2398), we focus on the strategic case of the lower uptake of nutrition information among less-educated individuals. We find that two aspects of anti-institutionalism, i.e. institutional distrust and antipaternalism, substantially account for the educational gap in the uptake of nutrition information. This indicates that current nutrition information inspires opposition among less-educated individuals. More generally, it suggests that the development of nutritional health interventions should avoid invoking institutional connotations, to increase their acceptance by those who commonly need these most.
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The authors would like to thank the participants in the Culture and Stratification Seminar (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and the Culture, Politics & Society Seminar (Tilburg University, KU Leuven and Erasmus University Rotterdam) for their meaningful comments on earlier versions of the article.
© 2022 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL (SHIL).