Combined effects of eating alone and living alone on unhealthy dietary behaviors, obesity and underweight in older Japanese adults: Results of the JAGES

Appetite. 2015 Dec:95:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.06.005. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


We examined whether eating alone is associated with dietary behaviors and body weight status, and assessed the modifying effects of cohabitation status in older Japanese people. Data from the 2010 Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, with a self-reported questionnaire for 38,690 men and 43,674 women aged ≥65 years, were used. Eating status was classified as eating with others, sometimes eating alone, or exclusively eating alone. We calculated adjusted prevalence ratios (APRs) of unhealthy dietary behaviors, obesity, and underweight, adjusting for age, education, income, disease, and dental status using Poisson regression. Overall, 16% of men and 28% of women sometimes or exclusively ate alone. Among those who exclusively ate alone, 56% of men and 68% of women lived alone. Men who exclusively ate alone were 3.74 times more likely to skip meals than men who ate with others. Among men who exclusively ate alone, those who lived alone had a higher APR than men who lived with others. Compared with subjects who ate and lived with others, the APRs of being obese (BMI ≥ 30.0 kg/m(2)) among men who exclusively ate alone were 1.34 (1.01-1.78) in those who lived alone and 1.17 (0.84-1.64) in those who lived with others. These combined effects of eating and living alone were weaker in women, with a potential increase in the APRs among those who ate alone despite living with others. Men who exclusively ate alone were more likely to be underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m(2)) than men who ate with others in both cohabitation statuses. Eating alone and living alone may be jointly associated with higher prevalence of obesity, underweight and unhealthy eating behaviors in men.

Keywords: Eating alone; Living alone; Meal skipping; Obesity; Underweight; Vegetables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Weight
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness / epidemiology*
  • Thinness / etiology