Study Finds Connection Between Mobility and Food Insufficiency Among Older Adults

Limited mobility might be a risk factor for food insufficiency among older adults, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The national study found that limited mobility and low physical activity, which scientifically categorizes a person as frail, are five times more likely to report that they often don’t have enough to eat.

Researchers looked at 4,700 U.S. adults older than age 60 using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

“Although little is known about food insufficiency as it relates to frailty, conceivably we thought if food insufficiency is associated with poorer nutritional status, it may also be associated with physical functioning and frailty,” said lead author Ellen Smit, an epidemiologist at Oregon State University.

Smit explains that food insufficiency has been shown to lead to poor dietary intake, nutritional status and health status.

“We need to target interventions on promoting availability and access to nutritious foods among frail older adults,” Smit said. “It is also important to improve nutritional status while not necessarily increasing body weight.”

Because frail adults might have difficulty leaving the house to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, Smit recommends the intervention of community outreach programs that can deliver nutritious meals or fresh produce.