Nutrition is simultaneously a biological and behavioral domain. Because biological needs and use of nutrients change with aging and because determinants of dietary behaviors (e.g., living arrangements, financial status) often change in later life, the elderly have been labeled """"""""nutritionally-vulnerable"""""""". This research will investigate the environmental, social, cultural, and personal factors that affect the dietary behavior of older adults in rural settings. The conceptual framework draws on the life course perspective and cultural ecology to build a model of dietary behavior incorporating effects of personal and life course characteristics, household and community resources, and food ideology on the nutritional strategies (food acquisition, use, and security) of persons 55 years of age and over.
The specific aims are to: (1) describe the nutritional strategies of households in which rural older persons reside and their food ideology; (2) analyze the effects of personal characteristics, life course characteristics, and community and household environments on nutritional strategies; (3) assess the effects of food ideology on nutritional strategies and compare its effects with those of personal and life course characteristics and environment; (4) analyze variation in nutritional strategy within and between different rural communities; and (5) determine influence of variation in nutritional strategy on dietary status of older persons. By making explicit the links between environment, nutritional strategy, and dietary status, the results will help identify appropriate intervention points for programs to assist older persons in meeting nutritional needs in a variety of rural environments. Study communities will be 3 counties in Kentucky chosen to maximize variation in resources related to nutritional strategies. Each is 100% rural. One is adjacent and has access to a metropolitan area; the others are nonadjacent and vary in traditional economic base. Data will be collected in a two stage design. In year 1, ethnographic research will be used for initial description and exploration, to ground survey instruments, and to provide case study materials for interpretation of survey data. This phase will include interviews with local experts and 21 key informants. In year 2 a survey of 600 persons will be conducted, with a multi- stage sampling strategy using to identify participants. Data analysis will include description and hypothesis testing with logistic regression and multiple regression the primary multivariate procedures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 1 (HUD)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Kentucky
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Roos, G M; Quandt, S A; DeWalt, K M (1993) Meal patterns of the elderly in rural Kentucky. Appetite 21:295-8