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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005 Nov;60(11):1475-8.

The effect of the presence of others on caloric intake in homebound older adults.

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219N Community Health Services Building, 933 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-2041, USA.



Undernutrition in homebound older adults is a significant problem. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the presence of others, both within the household and during meals, on caloric intake in homebound older adults.


In-depth interviews and three 24-hour dietary recalls were obtained from 50 older adults who were receiving home health services. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize participants, and hierarchical linear modeling was performed to evaluate predictors of caloric intake per meal.


Participants' mean age was 77. Females composed 65% and African Americans composed 42% of the sample. Analyses are based on 553 meal observations. The majority (84%) of participants consumed all meals for each of the 3 days of data collection; however, they consumed an average of only 1305 calories per day. Hierarchical linear modeling analysis indicated that persons who had others present during meals consumed an average of 114.0 calories more per meal than those who ate alone (p =.009) and that women consumed 76.7 fewer calories per meal than did men (p =.045). The presence of others within the household had no effect on caloric intake.


This research suggests that a simple and inexpensive way to increase caloric intake in homebound older adults is to make arrangements for family members or caregivers to eat with them.

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