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The nutrient intake of elderly men living alone and their attitudes towards nutrition education

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Aims: A cross-sectional study was undertaken among elderly men living alone in Sunderland to (1) assess their dietary intake and food habits, (2) to identify factors which influence their food choice, and (3) to investigate perceived needs regarding nutrition education activities.Methods: A random sample of 66 men, aged 70 years and over was drawn from members of luncheon clubs (n=33) and residents of sheltered housing accommodation (n=33). Dietary intake was assessed using a validated semi-quantified food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).Results: Intake of all nutrients, with the exception of energy, vitamin D and fibre was adequate. Almost half of the subjects (47%) had energy intakes below the EAR, and the majority tended towards underweight, as indicated by the age-adjusted reference standards for BMI. Taste and enjoyment were the factors which most influenced food choice. The main identified source of nutrition information was the media, followed by relatives and friends. Only half of the subjects perceived that they would benefit from nutrition education and 58% reported a willingness to participate in such activities if they were available.Conclusion: The findings suggest that although most subjects were aware of the role of dietary factors in the maintenance of an optimal health status, this age group is not a receptive audience for nutrition education activities. The targeting of elderly men living alone presents a challenge to nutrition educators.
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Keywords: elderly men; luncheon clubs; nutrition education; nutritional status; sheltered housing

Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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