Social isolation as a risk factor for inadequate diet of older Eastern Europeans

Int J Public Health. 2014 Oct;59(5):707-14. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0582-6. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


Objectives: Social isolation has been shown to be a risk factor for inadequate diet among older adults living in Western Europe and North America. This article investigates whether socially isolated older adults (65+) living in Eastern Europe also experience an increased risk of dietary inadequacy.

Methods: The study used SHARE IV survey data collected in the Czech Republic (n = 2,867), Poland (n = 772), and Hungary (n = 1,353). Logistic regression models were estimated for each country separately to predict the likelihood of two proxies for dietary adequacy, having three meals a day and/or a serving of fruits or vegetables, by social isolation.

Results: Social isolation was associated with lower likelihood of having three meals a day among Czech older adults (OR 0.39) and with lower likelihood of having a daily serving of fruits or vegetables among Czech (OR 0.62) and Polish older adults (OR 0.35). No association between social isolation and either one of the outcomes was found in Hungary.

Conclusions: Socially isolated Eastern European older adults may be at a higher risk of dietary inadequacy, particularly in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hungary / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires