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Factors Influencing Food Choices Among Older Adults in the Rural Western USA

Abstract

Nutrition is an essential component in promoting health and quality of life into the older adults years. The purpose of this qualitative research is to explore how the rural food environment influences food choices of older adults. Four focus groups were conducted with 33 older adults (50 years of age and older) residing in rural Montana communities. Four major themes related to factors influencing food choices among rural older adults emerged from this study: perception of the rural community environment, support as a means of increasing food access, personal access to food sources, and dietary factors. The findings from this current study warrant further research and promotion of specifically tailored approaches that influence the food choices of older adults in the rural western USA, including the developing and expanding public transportation systems, increasing availability of local grocers with quality and affordable food options, increasing awareness and decreasing stigma surrounding community food programs, and increasing nutrition education targeting senior health issues.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the AARP Foundation for financially supporting the work completed in this study through their Hunger Innovation Grants. AARP Foundation is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation.

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Correspondence to Carmen Byker Shanks.

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Byker Shanks, C., Haack, S., Tarabochia, D. et al. Factors Influencing Food Choices Among Older Adults in the Rural Western USA. J Community Health 42, 511–521 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-016-0283-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-016-0283-6

Keywords

  • Seniors
  • Nutrition
  • Food access
  • Eating behaviors