Opportunities and barriers for food intake in older age – a Norwegian perspective
Background: The ageing processes occur slowly over time and are often not detectable by the individual. Thus, preparing for dietary needs in later years should start at an earlier age than most people realise.
Objective: This study aims at better understanding what characterises food-related practices in active, home-living older adults, in order to identify food-related factors that act as barriers and those that promote healthy ageing.
Design: Three experiments were conducted: First, a web-based quantitative survey to collect information about home-living older adults’ food-related behaviours (67+ years, N = 1,005). Second, two focus groups with respondents 67–74 years (N = 7) and 75–84 years (N = 6) to elicit aspects not adequately covered in the survey. Third, 10 individual interviews to provide in-depth insights.
Results: Two distinct groups were identified in the survey; 67–79 years and 80+ years. The older age group experienced more barriers and restrictions in food intake and food-related behaviours compared to the younger group. Good taste, routines and social settings were important for appetite and food intake.
Discussion: Using a mixed-methods approach proved valuable for extracting information and a better understanding of what impacts on food-related aspects amongst older adults. Strategies for upholding a healthy food intake involve establishing daily routines and meeting arenas where older adults can socialise and eat food together.
Conclusion: This study confirmed that knowledge of older adults’ physical needs, barriers and abilities must be a part in preparation for a healthy diet.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to SNF Swedish Nutrition Foundation. Read the full Copyright- and Licensing Statement.