senior woman looking at receipt of groceries

An opinion poll showed that rising food prices affected the least healthy elderly

AARP Policy Institute recently published a report It shows that in 2018, the majority of adults over 50 whose income qualifies as federal food aid were not registered with SNAP. AARP Foundation presents Help understand and apply for SNAP benefits.

Eating habits and body weight

About a third (32%) of adults aged 50 to 64 said they eat a balanced diet, compared to 44% of those aged 65 to 80. Balanced of those with formal education completed with a high school diploma or less (48% vs. 28%). The percentage describing their diet as balanced was even lower among older adults who said their physical or mental health was fair or poor, at 23% and 16%, respectively.

The survey also asked adults about fruit and vegetable intake. In all, 38% agreed with the statement that they do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but the percentage that says this is much higher among those with fair or poor physical health (51%), or fair or poor mental health (56%).

People who reported not eating enough fruits and vegetables were more likely to report that their diet became less healthy due to higher costs, compared to those who felt they ate enough fruits and vegetables (40% vs. 26%).

See also: Even before COVID-19, many adults lacked a stable food supply

On another question about eating habits, 29% of older adults said they eat a lot of sweets – but larger percentages saying the same were seen among those with a high school education or less (34%) or incomes of less than $30,000 (34%) ), those who describe their physical health as fair or bad (39%) and those who describe their mental health as fair or bad (49%).

Similarly, 19% of the total survey sample agreed that they were not getting enough vitamins and minerals. The proportion was higher among those with incomes less than $30,000 (25%) and those who say they are in fair or poor physical health (30%) or mental health (33%).

When asked about their weight, 39% of the entire sample said they were slightly overweight, 29% said they were overweight, 25% said they were nearly the right weight, and 7% said they were underweight. The percentages saying they were overweight were higher among those who reported fair or poor physical health (47%), fair or poor mental health (37%) or income less than $30,000 (37%). The percentage of people who said they were underweight was higher among those with incomes under $30,000, at 13%.

This is the second time that the National Survey on Healthy Aging has asked about food concerns among older adults. In December 2019, 14% of people aged 50-80 who responded to the survey said their household had experienced food insecurity in the past year, and 42% of those respondents indicated that they or those living with them had reduced the quality or amount of food. The food they buy because of limited resources. Read the full report released in May 2020. The survey also reported on Seniors’ experiences with home cooking and eating out.

The survey report is based on the results of a nationally representative survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for IHPI, conducted online and by phone in July 2022 among 2,163 adults ages 50 to 80. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect the US population. Read previous national survey reports on healthy aging And the About the survey methodology.

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