Risk indicators for malnutrition are associated inversely with quality of life for participants in meal programs for older adults

J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 May;98(5):548-53. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(98)00123-0.


Objective: To evaluate the nature and strength of associations between quality of life and factors commonly linked with malnutrition in participants in a meal program for the elderly.

Design: A questionnaire that assessed quality of life, nutritional risk, quality of health, depression, social satisfaction, functional status, food security, and food enjoyment was administered.

Subjects/setting: All persons aged 60 years and older enrolled in the Title III-C meal program in Pepin County, Wisconsin, during a 1-month period were asked to participate. Of 180 eligible subjects, data were available for 155; 108 received meals at congregate sites and 47 received home-delivered meals.

Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the population. Independent-samples t tests and chi 2 analysis were used to test for differences between the congregate-meal group and home-delivered-meal group. Spearman correlation coefficients were used to determine the direction and magnitude of associations between scale variables and quality of life.

Results: Quality of life and quality of health were positively correlated (r = .83, P < .0001). Nutritional risk, food insecurity, decreased enjoyment of food, depression, and impaired functional status were all negatively associated with quality of life. This research offers evidence that there are measurable associations between nutritional factors and quality of life.

Applications: Our finding could be helpful to dietitians in justifying, planning, and evaluating nutrition programs and interventions. Quality of life in older adults may be further enhanced by programs that include social and psychological components in addition to elements oriented to reduce nutritional risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Food Services*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology