Nutrition and Well-Being

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Johnson, Mary
Hausman, Dorothy
Poon, Leonard
Sattler, Elisabeth
Davey, Adam
Major Professor
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Martin, Peter
University Professor
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Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

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  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

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The relationship of nutrition-related factors with well-being in people 80 and older has received little attention. Therefore, this chapter explores the relationships of depression and depressive symptoms, as a measure of well-being, with appetite, body weight changes, underweight, and obesity as measures of nutritional status. The sample is from the Georgia Centenarian Study (aged 80 to 89 and 98+ years, see Chapter 9). In bivariate analyses, centenarians with depression consistently had the highest prevalence of underweight when compared to centenarians without depression and all octogenarians (23% to 33% vs. 0% to 16%). When controlled for other demographic factors, clinically relevant depressive symptomatology was associated with appetite loss, while a current diagnosis of depression was associated with recent changes in body weight. However, taking antidepressant medications was not associated with any of the nutrition-related measures. Demographic factors emerged as important predictors of nutritional status. Living in a skilled nursing facility compared to living in the community was associated with a lower risk of appetite loss and higher risk of weight gain; being a centenarian or being female was associated with underweight; and being Black (vs. White) was associated with obesity. Thus, risk factors for poor nutritional status in the oldest may be related to depression as well as to specific demographic factors including age, gender, race, and residence in a skilled nursing facility.


This book chapter is published as Johnson, M. A., Hausman, D., Martin, P., Poon, L. W., Sattler, E. L., & Davey, A. (2011). Nutrition and well-being. In L. W. Poon & J. Cohen-Mansfield (Eds.), Understanding the well-being of the oldest old (pp. 171-185). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511920974.011 . Posted with permission.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011