Advertisement

The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 125–129 | Cite as

Older Australians’ perceptions and practices in relation to a healthy diet for old age: A qualitative study

  • S. Brownie
  • R. Coutts
Article

Abstract

Objective

To explore older independently-living Australians’ perceptions and practices about what constitutes a healthy diet for older people.

Design

Qualitative methodology, focus groups.

Setting

Independently-living retirees in Northern NSW, Australia.

Participants

A total of 29 participants in five focus groups, ranging in age from 60–93 years, with a mean age of 73.3 ± 8.8years; the majority (79%) were women.

Results

Thematic analysis of the focus group interviews revealed four themes that best represent older people’s perceptions and practices in relation to healthy eating for old age. These included: 1) healthy foods — participants believed in a hierarchy of perceived healthfulness or importance of foods; 2) quantity — participants believed that ageing was associated with a reduced dietary intake and less need for meat; 3) personal circumstances — participants acknowledged that food costs, social situations and health conditions influenced their food choices; and 4) good intention — participants acknowledged that the desire to regain or maintain wellbeing and to preserve health positively influenced their food choices. Participants were unaware of the national nutrient targets for older Australians.

Conclusion

The trend towards reduced dietary intake of meat and the indifference to dairy products expressed by many participants in this study suggests that they are at risk of not achieving the requirements for protein and calcium in particular. Failure to meet these age-adjusted nutrient targets has important implications for the health and functional capacity of older people.

Key words

Australians diet elderly focus groups nutrition perceptions 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Koehler J, Leonhaeuser I. Changes in food preferences during aging. Annals of Nutrition Metabolism. 2008;52((Suppl. 1)):15–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dean M, Raats M, Grunert K, Lumbers M. Factors influencing eating a varied diet in old age. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(12):2421–2427.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lau D. Role of food perceptions in food selection of the elderly. J Nutr Elder. 2008;27(3/4):221–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Payette H, Shatenstein B. Determinants of healthy eating in community-dwelling elderly people. Can J Public Health. 2005;96 (S27–S31.).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Food Information Council. Exploring the food and health attitudes of older Americans. J Nutr Elder. 2001;20(3):39–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    McKie L. Older people and food: independence, locality and diet. British Food Journal. 1999;101(7):528–36(9).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Quandt S, McDonald J, Arcury T, Bell R, Vitolins M. Nutritional self-management of elderly widows in rural communities. The Gerontologist. 2000;40(1):86–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    McKie L, MacInnes A, Hendry J, Donald S, Peace H. The food consumption patterns and perceptions of dietary advice of older people. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2000;13:173–183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    NHMRC. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2005.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    NHMRC. Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2005.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hancock B, Ockleford E, Windridge K. An introduction to qualitative research. Sheffield.: Trent RDSU; 2007.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Krueger RA. Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications; 1994.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Strauss AL, Corbin JM. Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage publishers; 1998.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Haveman-Nies A, de Groot L, van Staveren WA. Dietary quality, lifestyle factors and healthy ageing in Europe: the SENECA study. Age Ageing. 2003;32(4):427–434.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Trichopoulou A. Traditional Mediterranean diet and longevity in the elderly: a review. Public Health Nutr. 2004;7(7):943–947.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gonzalez S, Huerta J, Fernandez S, Patterson A, Lasheras C. Differences in overall mortality in the elderly may be explained by diet. Gerontology. 2008;54:232–237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    He FJ, Nowson C, MacGregor GA. Fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Lancet. 2006;367:320–326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zhu K, Devine A, Suleska A, Tan CY, Toh CZJ, Kerr D, et al. Adequacy and change in nutrient and food intakes with aging in a seven-year cohort study in elderly women. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging. 2010;14(9):723–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ervin RB. Healthy eating index scores among adults, 60 years and over, by sociodemographic and health characteristics: United States, 1999–2002. Hyattsville, MD.: National Center for Health Statistics, 2008.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ryan AS, Craig LD, Finn SC. Nutrient intakes and dietary patterns of older Americans: A national study. J Gerontol. 1992;47(5):M145–M150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dawson B, Taylor J, Favaloro E. Potential benefits of improved protein intake in older people. Nutrition and Dietetics. 2008;65:151–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Evans W. Skeletal muscle loss: cachexia, sarcopenia, and inactivity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bales CW, Ritchie CS. Sarcopenia, weight loss, and nutritional frailty in the elderly. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2002;22:309–323.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Heaney RP. Calcium, dairy products and osteoporosis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2000;19(2 Suppl):83S–99S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Drewnowski A, Shultz JM. Impact of ageing on eating behaviors, food choices, nutrition, and health status. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Ageing. 2001;5(2):75–79.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gustafsson K, Sidenvall B. Food-related health perceptions and food habits among older women. J Adv Nurs. 2002;39(2):164–173.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Brownie S. Characteristics of older dietary supplement users — a review of the literature. Australasian Journal of Ageing. 2005;24(2):77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sahyoun NR. Nutrition Education for the Healthy Elderly Population: Isn’t It Time? J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002; 34,Supplement 1 (0):S42–S47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sahyoun NR, Pratt CA, Anderson A. Evaluation of nutrition education interventions for older adults: a proposed framework. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104(1):58–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Higgins M, Clarke Barkley M. Important nutrition education isseus and recommendations related to a review of the literature on older adults. J Nutr Elder. 2003;22(3):65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Keller H. Promoting food intake in older adults living in the community: a review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007;32:991–1000.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Miller CK, Edwards L, Kissling G, Sanville L. Evaluation of a theory-based nutrition intervention for older adults with diabetes mellitus. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2002;102:1069–1074, 79–81.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kumanyika SK, Cook NR, Cutler JA, Belden L, Brewer A, Cohen JD, et al. Sodium reduction for hypertension prevention in overweight adults: further results from the Trials of Hypertension Prevention Phase II. Journal Of Human Hypertension. 2005;19(1):33–45.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Burke L, Howat P, Lee A, Jancey J, Kerr D, Shilton T. Development of a nutrition and phsyical activity booklet to engage seniors. BMC Reserach Notes. 2008;1:77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Brownie
    • 1
  • R. Coutts
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health and Human SciencesSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

Personalised recommendations