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Policies from various sectors and at different levels are required to address food insecurity among older adults

Vilar-Comptea M, Gaitán-Rossia P, Pérez-Escamillab R.  Food insecurity measurement among older adults: Implications for policy and food security governance  Global Food Security. 2017; 14: 87-95.

Review question

      How is food insecurity experienced by older adults measured?


      Food insecurity refers to the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food.

      There are few studies focused on instruments to accurately measure food insecurity among older adults. Thus, this review aimed to identify how food insecurity among older adults is measured in different countries and contexts, and what impact such information has on policy-making.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for published studies was conducted. The authors did not specify the exact period covered by the search of the literature.

      Studies that focused on food security, older adults, and aging were included in the review.

      A total of 98 studies were identified in searches, and 58 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

      Existing literature focuses on the aging-nutrition intersection, while policy and evaluation based on information gathered about older adults and food insecurity is not yet a mainstream focus. In addition, available literature mostly focuses on high- and middle-income countries.

      The review revealed the key factors influencing food security among older adults: individual factors (for example, age, gender, health status, household composition and income); interpersonal factors (for example, social capital and financial support); institutional factors (for example, health insurance and healthcare services use); and community factors (for example, climate, neighborhood characteristic, and urban/rural environments).

      Access to food among older adults is a complex behavior, which may be affected by several barriers such as having physical limitations, being socially isolated, and lacking access to transportation.

      Many different types of scales have been used to measure food security. The evidence about the use of such scales is inconclusive, few capturing the food insecurity experiences of older adults.


      The systematic review highlights that further research is needed to assess food insecurity among older adults in different regions.

      The review revealed that food insecurity among older adults is complex and requires to be addressed through policies from various sectors and at different levels.


Related Topics


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

  • Covid-19: Finding Affordable Food

    National Council on Aging (US)
    The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many people to lose their food security and has left them wondering where their next meal is coming from. This resource describes several programs across America such as Meals on Wheels and Feeding America Food Banks that help seniors maintain their physical health by accessing nutritional food.
  • Food Safety

    National Institute on Aging
    As a senior, it is very important to be aware of the many dangers of unsafe food. Use this resource to learn how to safely handle food while cooking, washing and eating vegetables and meat.
  • 10 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

    National Institute on Aging
    If you are a senior who is struggling to make a food budget and maintain a healthy diet, use this resource to learn about tools that can help you. Consider using coupons, making lists, buying in bulk or even meal delivery options.
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