Background: Australia has an ageing population, with majority of older adults living within the community. Enabling positive health outcomes for this group through supporting healthy lifestyle behaviours such as appropriate food choice is critical. However, current evidence around increasing rates of malnutrition in community-living older Australians suggests food intakes are not meeting needs. The aim of this study was to explore adults (> 70 years) food preferences, and current and perceived future nutritional needs.
Methods: Four focus groups were conducted in the Illawarra with a total of 18 people (5 men and 13 women) during November-December 2012. All participants gave written consent and two facilitators moderated the groups with a question framework. Focus groups were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Results: Thematic analyses were conducted by two independent researchers and five themes were identified. The themes included: Preservation of independence (underlying an expressed determination to maintain their current behaviours to sustain independence); Food related behaviours(encompassing changes in the acquisition of food, and associated changes in food consumption and preparation); Impact of ageing(identifying a gap of overt acceptance of age related changes impacting capacity), Social interaction (recognising the value of social support systems and the interplay with food choice decision) and Limited Future Planning (pinpointing a lack of systematic planning on addressing changing capacity into the future).
Conclusion: This exploratory study uncovered a plethora of factors influencing food and nutrition decisions for older Australians and highlights the need for further ongoing research to be undertaken. Funded by Proportion Foods.
Funding Source: Proportion Foods