Perceived environmental supports for fruit and vegetable consumption among older adults in the US

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Jiang, Qianzhi
Chapman-Novakofski, Karen M.
Wilt, McKenzie
Carbone, Elena T.
Cohen, Nancy L.
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Food Science and Human Nutrition
Background: The physical and social environments surrounding food, whether perceived or observed, can influence consumers’ food choices by changing food access, and affordability, or by changing settings where food-related behaviors occur. Aim: To describe older adults’ perceived food environment, identify the most important sites and factors that enable healthy eating, and explore older adults’ recommendations for communities to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption. Methods: Participants aged 60 and older from metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, Iowa, and Illinois completed a researcher-administered survey to rate the perceived environment including accessibility, availability, and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and perceived importance of factors and establishments related to fruit and vegetable consumption. Participants also suggested changes for establishments to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption. Results: The majority of the 142 participants perceived their food environment for fruits and vegetables as not difficult to access (85.2%) with good or excellent availability (90.1%). Education, marital status, and race were associated with some aspects of the perceived food environment. Perceived accessibility and supermarkets were rated as the most important factor and establishment, respectively, to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption across all study sites. Participants proposed recommendations to address the availability, quality, accessibility and affordability of fruits and vegetables. Conclusion: Interventions promoting accessible, affordable, quality fruits and vegetables may improve older adult consumers’ perceptions of their food environment. Communities may also use undervalued resources such as mobile markets more strategically to provide additional support for healthy eating in older adults.
This is a manuscript of an article published as Jiang, Qianzhi, Sarah L. Francis, Karen M. Chapman-Novakofski, McKenzie Wilt, Elena T. Carbone, and Nancy L. Cohen. "Perceived environmental supports for fruit and vegetable consumption among older adults in the US." Nutrition and Health 27, no. 3 (2021): 309-319. DOI: 10.1177%2F0260106021993749. Copyright 2021 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.