Social environments are important determinants of nutritional risk among older-aged adults
According to a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition by a team including Associate Professor Daiva Nielsen and other researchers from McGill's School of Human Nutrition, a supportive social environment may protect against nutritional risk among middle and older-aged adults.
Older individuals are more vulnerable to nutrition and health issues due to physiological changes associated with aging, but social circumstances like eating alone and a lack of assistance with grocery shopping and meal preparation can also contribute to these risks. Strong social ties are important for overall health, and a lack of support can lead to increased mortality and poor nutrition. Factors like marriage, trust in the community, and participation in religious organizations are linked to better nutritional status.
To increase our understanding of how social factors impact nutrition, the study's authors analyzed the relationship between distinct profiles of social environment and nutritional risk status among adult. They found that those with low social support had the worst nutritional outcomes, while outcomes improved as support in the social environment increased.
Strategies to reduce nutritional risk should consider social factors and their impact on dietary intake.