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Pinch Force Required for Adults Over 50 Years of Age to Open Several Types of Food Containers


Many older adults have difficulty opening food packages, and even though they comprise the fastest growing segment of our population, the development of easy to open food packaging has been overlooked by the food industry (Costa and Jongen in Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 50(6):489–502. 10.1080/10408390802544553, 2010); Hensel in Food Technol 66(12):23–30, 2012). The ability to use pinch is required to open food packages, but there is limited evidence regarding how much pinch force is required for different types of food packaging. This study used sensor technology to identify the force required to open several types of food packages which are typically used by older adults. Individuals over the age of 50 opened 15 different food packages and the average force in pounds required to open each type was obtained. The average force employed differed by sex for many food products and ranged from 1.28 to 7.27 kg. The information obtained from this study is useful both for healthcare professionals working with older adults and individuals with pathology of the hand, and for the food packaging industry.

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Availability of Data and Material

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Sammon’s Center for Innovation (Western Michigan University) for funding to support this research. Fabrication Enterprises Incorporated for funding support to purchase sensors for data collection. Jordan Sternfeld, an occupational therapy student from Western Michigan University, who assisted in data collection procedures.


This research was supported by the Sammon’s Center for Innovation (Western Michigan University). Fabrication Enterprises Incorporated provided funding support to purchase sensors for data collection.

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Correspondence to Nancy Hock.

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Approval was obtained from the HSIRB through Western Michigan University.

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Hock, N., Shuster, L., Lindstrom, D. et al. Pinch Force Required for Adults Over 50 Years of Age to Open Several Types of Food Containers. J Package Technol Res 5, 167–173 (2021).

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  • Food packaging
  • Hand strength
  • Older adults
  • Nutritional frailty
  • Opening