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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Low economic status is associated with suboptimal intakes of nutritious foods by adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002

Author
item Bowman, Shanthy

Submitted to: Nutrition Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2007
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Citation: Bowman, S.A. 2007. Low economic status is associated with suboptional intakes of nutritious foods by adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. Nutrition Research. 27:515-523.

Interpretive Summary: In the 20th century, life expectancy has increased among men and women. Therefore, people are likely to live longer. Many adults in this age group may be retired and may have a smaller income than when they were employed. Therefore, it is important that the quality of their life is not reduced. Adequate nutrition is necessary for good health. This study looks at the socio-economic and nutritional status of adults, 60 years of age and over, who lived in low, medium, and high income households. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 1999-2002. The results showed that low income, older adults are more likely to be women, minorities, and either widowed or divorced. They are more likely to live in apartments, mobile homes, or trailers. After adjusting for variations due to age and gender, low income adults ate 250 kilocalories less energy. A reason for the low energy intake of low income adults may be that 13 percent of them lived in food insecure households. They also ate less fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods. Overall, many older adults’ diet was low in calcium and potassium. Their fiber intakes were also low. In general, older adults should strive to increase intakes of foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in fiber and many micronutrients. These micronutrients are essential disease prevention and health promotion.

Technical Abstract: This study uses data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002 and compares the social characteristics such as education, marital status and housing and food and nutrient intakes of adults from low-, medium-, and high- income households. There were 2,675 adults, ages 60 years and over, who had reliable dietary intake information on day 1 of the survey. The adults were grouped into three groups based on household income: low (less than 131% poverty), medium (131%-350% of poverty), and high (above 350% of poverty). Twenty five percent of adults lived in low-income households and 32% in high-income households. Women, African Americans, and Hispanics were more likely to live in low-income households. Low-income adults were more likely to have high school level or less education. More than one-third of them rented their homes. Half of them were either widowed or divorced. Only three fourths lived in households that were fully food secure. Energy and many micronutrients intakes decreased with a decrease in income. The low-income adults ate less fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish than high- income adults. Their whole grain intakes and fiber intakes were low. Nutrition educators working with adults, ages 60 years and over, should address strategies to increase intakes of foods rich in micronutrients for better health.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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