Food and nutrient intake and diet quality among older Americans

Yeon Jin Choi, Eileen M. Crimmins, Jung Ki Kim, Jennifer A. Ailshire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: A suboptimal diet and nutritional deficiencies can have important influences on health with significant impact among older adults. This study aims to assess the presence of suboptimal dietary intake among older Americans and identify risk and protective factors influencing diet quality. Design: Cross-sectional secondary analysis. Setting: USA. Participants: A nationally representative sample of 5614 community-dwelling older adults over age 54 in the Health and Retirement Study-Health Care and Nutrition Survey. Results: Overall, only 10·7 % of respondents had a good quality diet (Healthy Eating Index score 81 and above); the majority had diets considered poor or needing improvement. Less than 50 % of respondents met dietary guidelines and nutritional goals for most individual food groups and nutrients. Respondents with low socio-economic status, fewer psychosocial resources and those who had limited access to healthy food outlets were more likely to have a diet of suboptimal quality. Conclusions: Efforts to remove identified barriers that put older adults at risk for poor nutrition and to provide resources that increase access to healthy food should be made to encourage healthy eating and enhance diet quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1638-1647
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements: Not applicable. Financial support: This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (T32-AG000037; P30 AG017265). Conflict of interest: None. Authorship: Y.J.C. wrote the first draft. E.M.C. reviewed and commented on drafts of the manuscript. J.K.K. prepared the data for validation. J.A.A. supervised the study and reviewed and commented on drafts of the manuscript. Ethics of human subject participation: Not applicable. This study was conducted using a publically available data, which includes adults over age 50.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Diet Quality
  • Dietary guidelines
  • Healthy eating
  • Socio-ecological framework
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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