Objectives: The objectives were to understand how the retirement decisions of older Americans influence household food consumption patterns by gender and, in turn, to examine the impact of the change in food consumption on weight.
Research methods and procedures: This study used five waves of the Health and Retirement Study (1992 to 2002; n=28,117). Participants were 50 to 71 years old during the study period. We used longitudinal regression analyses controlling for health events, spousal factors, socioeconomic factors, and individual fixed effects over time.
Results: Retirement of the individual and of his/her spouse reduced the individual's monthly spending on eating out by $10 and $7 on average, respectively, but did not change household spending on food at home. The wife's, but not the husband's, retirement decreased the spouse's spending on eating out by $13/mo. Spending on eating out was a significant but weak (0.003BMI/$) predictor of weight gain.
Discussion: The decrease in spending on eating out after retirement, particularly women's, suggests that people eat out less when they have more time for food preparation at home. However, increases in other risks of weight gain with retirement, such as physical inactivity, could counteract the effects of eating out less.