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Public Health


The purpose of the study was to gain insight into older adults’ food purchasing behaviors. A qualitative study of 26 in-depth interviews was conducted. Participants were aged 65 or older, purchased their own food, and prepared their own meals. Grounded theory method was used to develop an explanation of older adults’ food purchasing behaviors that was grounded in data. Coding of the qualitative data were performed to identify significant categories.Four categories emerged from the data which included 1) Routine shopper; 2) Purchasing staples; 3) Lack of interest in learning new purchasing behaviors; and 4) Price and convenience over nutrition. Older adults employed routine behaviors when shopping and purchased items they were familiar with. Price and convenience appeared to influence purchasing behavior more than nutrition. Older adults lacked diversity in their food purchasing and utilized little nutrition information in their food choices. Participants were resistant to change in regard to shopping location, in-store routine, foods purchased, sources of information used in planning food purchases, and use of nutrition information. Health educators could design easily-accessible in-store nutrition education opportunities for older adults in order to learn new food purchase options independently and increase nutrition knowledge to improve variety in food purchases.

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