Food intake among food insecure older adult congregate meal participants in northeast Georgia
Huffman, Katherine Elizabeth
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of food insecurity (FI) and food intake among northeast Georgians participating in the Older Americans Act (OAA) congregate meal-site program (N = 118, median age 75 (8) years, 75% female, 43% Black, and 53% obese, convenience sample). FI was assessed using the modified US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM): Six-Item Short Form (adapted from USDA 2012, Leung et al 2010) and was scored from 0 to 6 [food secure (FS) = 0-1; low food security (LFS) = 2-4; and very low food security (VLFS) = 5-6)]. This modified six-item short form has been validated by Lee et al (2011a) in older adults to measure and monitor food insecurity data, and serve as a helpful indicator for the need of food and nutrition assistance programs. Responses to six categories of food intake (sweets, salty snacks, fruits, vegetables, milk, and whole grains) were assessed with a short food frequency questionnaire. Being food insecure (LFS and VLFS vs. FS) was significantly and positively associated with the intake of whole grains. However, FI was not associated with the intake of the other food groups examined. Possible explanations for these findings are that congregate meals and other food and nutrition assistance programs available through senior centers may attenuate the adverse effects of FI on food intake. Additional research is needed to explore this possibility.