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Nutrients. 2018 Mar 27;10(4). pii: E413. doi: 10.3390/nu10040413.

On Your Own: Older Adults' Food Choice and Dietary Habits.

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School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


The United Kingdom, in common with many countries, has an ageing demographic. Changes accompanying ageing can influence food choice and dietary habits. This study explored older adults' perceptions and practices related to dietary behaviour and the factors influencing their food choice in later life. Semi-structured focus-group discussions were conducted with 30 individuals (aged 63-90 years) in a UK city. An inductive thematic approach was adopted for data analysis, and 4 themes and 12 sub-themes emerged: age-related changes (lower appetite, food changes, declining physical function); food access (food cost, support with food, maintaining independence); on your own (cooking for one, eating alone, shopping for one); and relationship with food (food variety, eating what you want, dieting). These influenced participants' food acquisition, food preparation and cooking, as well as eating habits. Living alone and its substantial influence, as well as associated social isolation and loneliness, were highlighted in many of the discussions. Given the possible implications for nutritional intake, further work is recommended in this area. Likewise, steps should be taken to improve food access, increase opportunities for commensal eating and, fundamentally, address social isolation and loneliness in the older population.


ageing; food choice; loneliness; older adults; qualitative methodology

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