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The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 728–731 | Cite as

Eating alone among community-dwelling Japanese elderly: Association with depression and food diversity

  • Yumi Kimura
  • T. Wada
  • K. Okumiya
  • Y. Ishimoto
  • E. Fukutomi
  • Y. Kasahara
  • W. Chen
  • R. Sakamoto
  • M. Fujisawa
  • K. Otsuka
  • Kozo Matsubayashi
Article

Abstract

Abstract

Eating alone is an emerging social concern these days along with the background of serious aging population growth and increasing number of single-dwellers in Japan. However, little study is focused eating alone and its relation to the health status of community-dwelling elderly.

Objectives

To clarify the relations between eating alone and geriatric functions such as depression, quantitative subjective quality of life (QOL), activities of daily living (ADL) and dietary status of community-dwelling Japanese elderly.

Design

A cross-sectional study.

Settings

Tosa town, one of the “super-aged” towns in Japan.

Participants

The study population consisted of 856 communitydwelling elderly aged ≥65 living in Tosa town.

Measurements

Eating alone and living arrangement was defined by the questionnaire. Geriatric functions were assessed by measuring activities of daily living (ADL), depressive symptom using 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15), and quality of life (QOL). Food diversity was investigated as a measure of dietary quality using 11-item Food Diversity Score Kyoto (FDSK-11). Body mass index (BMI) was calculated using height and body weight during a medical assessment.

Results

The proportion of the elderly who usually eat alone was 33.2% in this study population. Even among 697 elderly subjects who live with others, 136 persons (19.5%) ate alone. The participants who ate alone were significantly depressed according to the assessment using GDS-15 score (5.7±4.3 vs. 4.4±3.8, P<0.001). Those who ate alone have lower scores of QOL items than those who ate with others (Subjective sense of health; 52.5±21.9 vs. 55.7±20.2 P=0.035, Relationship with family; 74.1±23.5 vs. 78.9±18.6 P<0.001, Subjective happiness; 58.5±22.7 vs. 62.2±21.1 P=0.019). A significant close association was found between eating alone and lower food diversity (FDSK-11 score 9.9±1.3 vs. 10.2±1.3, P=0.002). BMI was lower in the elderly subjects who ate alone than those with others. By the multivariate analysis, depression was independently associated with eating alone in the logistic regression model adjusted for age, sex, BMI and food diversity as confounding factors (OR; 1.42, Cl; 1.00–2.11, P=0.043). Food diversity was also significantly associated even after the adjustment of these confounding factors.

Conclusion

Eating alone is an important issue related to depression and QOL as well as dietary status of community-dwellingl elderly in Japan. This study shows the simple and inexpensive way “eating together” may contribute to improve depressive mood of elderly persons, with a strong message that supports of family, friends and neighbors are very important.

Key words

Eating alone community-dwelling elderly quality of life depression food diversity 

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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yumi Kimura
    • 1
    • 6
  • T. Wada
    • 2
  • K. Okumiya
    • 3
  • Y. Ishimoto
    • 1
  • E. Fukutomi
    • 1
  • Y. Kasahara
    • 1
  • W. Chen
    • 1
  • R. Sakamoto
    • 3
  • M. Fujisawa
    • 4
  • K. Otsuka
    • 5
  • Kozo Matsubayashi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Field Medicine, School of Public HealthKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Southeast Asian StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Research Institute for Humanity and NatureKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Wild Animal Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  5. 5.Medical Center EastTokyo Women’s Medical UniversityTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of Field Medicine, School of Public HealthKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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