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J Nutr Educ. 2001 Jul-Aug;33(4):215-23.

Consistency in women's orientations to food and nutrition in midlife and older age: a 10-year qualitative follow-up.

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Sumner County Health Department, Gallatin, Tennessee 37066-3310, USA.



The objective of this study was to discover and understand women's perceptions of stability and change in their orientations to food and nutrition during a time of physical, social, and psychological transitions.


A 10-year follow-up to a 1988 study was conducted. PARTICPANTS/SETTINGS: Seventeen women from a 1988 study in a semirural county in New York participated. They were well-educated, Caucasian mothers, aged 44 to 75 years in 1998.


Semistructured, qualitative interviews in 1988 and 1998 were analyzed using grounded theory analysis. The 1998 and 1988 interviews with the same women were compared to understand patterns in orientations to food and nutrition. The life-course perspective was a conceptual guide.


Most women in this sample described consistent orientations to food and nutrition at interviews 10 years apart. Even in the face of expected and unexpected changes in healthy, social environment, and roles, 14 of the 17 women perceived that their thoughts, beliefs, and strategies related to food and nutrition had been consistent across 10 years. The few women who perceived that they had changed orientations attributed changes to debilitating disease and transitions in work and family roles.


Perceptions of consistency in their orientations to food and nutrition through midlife and older age among these women may be signs of stable trajectories that influence their response to nutrition education and their approach to dietary change.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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