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Appetite. 2004 Dec;43(3):269-76.

Old and alone: barriers to healthy eating in older men living on their own.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Liverpool, L69 7ZA, UK.


Ageing is associated with reduced energy intake and loss of appetite. Older men tend to have poorer dietary intakes including consumption of fewer fruits and vegetables in comparison to older women. Living and eating alone further diminishes food consumption and dietary quality. The aim of the present study was to explore food choice and energy intake in older men living alone using both quantitative and qualitative methods. 39 older men were interviewed and completed questionnaires on health, food choice, dietary patterns and appetite. Few men managed to consume recommended levels of energy, essential trace elements or vitamins A and D. Age and BMI failed to predict patterns of intake, but men with good cooking skills reported better physical health and higher intake of vegetables. However, cooking skills were negatively correlated with energy intake. Men who managed to consume at least 4 portions of fruits and vegetables each day had significantly higher vitamin C levels, a greater percentage of energy as protein and generally more adequate diets. Interviews revealed that poor cooking skills and low motivation to change eating habits may constitute barriers to improving energy intake, healthy eating and appetite in older men (193).

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