A multidimensional approach to understanding under-eating in homebound older adults: The importance of social factors

Julie L. Locher, Christine S. Ritchie, Caroline O. Robinson, David L. Roth, Delia Smith West, Kathryn L. Burgio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify relationships between medical, functional, economic, oral health, social, religious, and psychological factors and under-eating in homebound older adults. The focus of the study was on identifying potentially modifiable factors amenable to social and behavioral interventions. Design and Methods: A total of 230 homebound older adults who were currently receiving home health services participated in interviews in their homes using a questionnaire to assess eating behaviors and factors that could possibly affect those eating behaviors. Interviewers measured height and weight, and participants completed three 24-hr dietary recalls. Results: The mean age of participants was 79.1 years. The sample comprised 78% women and 38% African Americans. We found that 70% of participants were under-eating, defined as not consuming enough calories to maintain their current body weight. Participants who were at higher risk of under-eating included men, those receiving either infrequent care or very frequent care by a caregiver, those who had been hospitalized prior to receipt of home health services, and those with a higher body mass index. Implications: Findings from the study have implications for both practice and policy. Experts must develop evidence-based interventions targeted at under-eating in this particularly vulnerable and growing population of homebound older adults. This study provides an initial foundation for the development of targeted evidence-based behavioral nutritional interventions that are noninvasive and cost effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalGerontologist
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Nutrition policy
  • Under-eating
  • Undernutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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