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Food choice among homebound older adults: Motivations and perceived barriers

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this paper is to identify: motivations and perceived barriers associated with food choices made by homebound older adults; whether motivations and perceived barriers vary according to social demographic characteristics; and whether motivations and perceived barriers are associated with dietary quality.

Design

This was an observational study using standard interview methods where participants were administered a questionnaire and completed three 24-hour dietary recalls.

Setting

Participants were interviewed in their homes.

Participants

185 homebound older adults were included.

Measurement

Motivations were assessed using a modification of The Food Choice Questionnaire and perceived barriers were assessed using the Vailas Food Enjoyment Questionnaire. Participants answered questions regarding social demographic characteristics. Dietary quality measures of adequate intakes of calories, protein, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 were obtained from the three 24-hour dietary recalls.

Results

Mean age was 78.9; 80% were female; and 36% were African American. Key motivations in food choice included sensory appeal, convenience, and price. Key barriers included health, being on a special diet, and being unable to shop. These varied little by social demographics, except for age. Dietary quality varied according to different motivations and barriers.

Conclusion

Food choices are based upon a complex interaction between the social and environmental context, the individual, and the food. Efforts to change eating behaviors, especially community-based interventions involving self-management approaches, must carefully take into account individuals’ self-perceived motivations and barriers to food selection. Incorporating foods that are tasty, easy to prepare, inexpensive, and that involve caregivers are critical for successful interventions.

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Correspondence to Julie L. Locher.

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Locher, J.L., Ritchie, C.S., Roth, D.L. et al. Food choice among homebound older adults: Motivations and perceived barriers. J Nutr Health Aging 13, 659–664 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-009-0194-7

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Key words

  • Food choice
  • health beliefs
  • health behavior
  • nutrition intervention
  • nutrition policy