Sociodemographic differences in dietary habits in a population-based sample of elderly subjects: the 3C study.J Nutr Health Aging. 2004; 8(6):497-502.JN
Diet plays an important role in maintaining quality of life in ageing and can be influenced by sociodemographic factors. We aimed to describe dietary habits in a large population-based sample of elderly people and to explore how they may vary according to sex, age, educational level and lifestyle.
9250 community dwellers aged 65 years and over recruited in three French cities were interviewed about their food habits with a brief frequency questionnaire. For each food considered, the subjects were classified as occasional or regular consumers. Quantities of alcoholic beverages consumed daily were also assessed. Dietary habits were compared for men and women separately according each sociodemographic factor.
Women were characterized by a more regular consumption of fruit and vegetables and drunk fewer alcoholic beverages. Older subjects ate meat, fish, cereals, raw vegetables and pulses less regularly. The proportion of regular consumers of fish, raw fruit, raw vegetables and cooked fruit or vegetables and the quantity of alcohol consumed increased with educational level. Subjects living alone were less regular consumers of almost all foods.
The results show that even in a sub-population of elderly people, dietary patterns can vary greatly according to several factors. Identifying such factors is of value for future analytic studies on nutrition and health in the elderly. In view of dietary recommendations advising a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, subjects living alone and people with a low educational level are particularly at risk and should be encouraged to eat more balanced meals.