Determinants of healthy eating in community-dwelling elderly people

Can J Public Health. 2005 Jul-Aug;96 Suppl 3:S27-31, S30-5.
[Article in English, French]


Among seniors, food choice and related activities are affected by health status, biological changes wrought by aging and functional abilities, which are mediated in the larger arena by familial, social and economic factors. Determinants of healthy eating stem from individual and collective factors. Individual components include age, sex, education, physiological and health issues, psychological attributes, lifestyle practices, and knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, in addition to other universal dietary determinants such as income, social status and culture. Collective determinants of healthy eating, such as accessible food labels, an appropriate food shopping environment, the marketing of the "healthy eating" message, adequate social support and provision of effective, community-based meal delivery services have the potential to mediate dietary habits and thus foster healthy eating. However, there is a startling paucity of research in this area, and this is particularly so in Canada. Using search and inclusion criteria and key search strings to guide the research, this article outlines the state of knowledge and research gaps in the area of determinants of healthy eating among Canadian seniors. In conclusion, dietary self-management persists in well, independent seniors without financial constraints, whatever their living arrangements, whereas nutritional risk is high among those in poor health and lacking in resources. Further study is necessary to clarify contributors to healthy eating in order to permit the development and evaluation of programs and services designed to encourage and facilitate healthy eating in older Canadians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Canada
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Social Class