A study by the University of Michigan has looked at how the Covid-19 pandemic may have impacted the eating habits of older people. The research is based on a poll of Americans in their 50s and older. The poll was conducted before the outbreak; the University has now released a report on the pandemic’s potential impact on older people’s eating habits.
The national poll found that most people in their 50s and older were capable home cooks just before Covid-19 struck the US. The cooking skills that enabled half of older adults to eat dinner at home six or seven days a week may have served them well during the height of the pandemic, the poll suggests.
However, the poll also found that only 5% of these older people had ordered groceries online before the outbreak. This suggests that they may need added support for grocery shopping as the pandemic continues and older adults seek to avoid Covid-19.
The poll also shows vulnerability for many older adults. One in four said they already ate most or all of their meals alone, even before the pandemic led to social-distancing rules. Solo diners reported less healthy diets than those who rarely or never ate alone.
In addition, 11% of older adults ate fast food three times a week or more. This group was less likely to call their overall diet healthy.
The National Poll on Healthy Aging was carried out by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center. It involved a national sample of more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80.
“Public health guidance to avoid infection will continue to alter food-buying habits for many older people and those with health conditions, so further support for them may be needed to ensure healthy habits continue,” Julia Wolfson, assistant professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a statement.
The temporary closure of restaurants would have affected half of those polled, who said they dined out at least once a week before they took the poll. Cindy Leung, assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences, said in the statement: “Restaurants could help support healthy eating by making sure affordable healthy options are available on menus and making sure nutrition information is… easily available.”
Source: University of Michigan
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