Exploring Household Food Security and Malnutrition Risk with Psychosocial Indicators of Healthy Ageing in Place: The Food Train – Eat Well Age Well Partnership Project

In Scotland, and United Kingdom, there are stark inequalities in the experience of older age, particularly for those with limited social contact, poorer health, located in deprived neighbourhoods (Centre for Ageing Better 2015). This mixed-methodology research, reports survey findings with n=169 community dwelling older adults in Scotland (average age 79.5), supported with qualitative interviews to evidence the underexplored connection between food insecurity and physiological risk indicators of undernutrition (malnutrition), with psychosocial indicators of healthy ageing. Findings are grounded in collaboration with a third sector social enterprise – Food Train, who provide food shopping and volunteer meal making for those aged 65+. Findings revealed correlations between food insecurity and early indicators of malnutrition risk with poorer wellbeing, and social connectedness. Supported food access mitigates the negative cycle of food insecurity on mental health, via empowerment (locus of control) over one’s life. Qualitative findings suggest that risks of food insecurity may not be financial (food poverty), or attributable to health realities associated with ageing. Rather, psychosocial health and wellbeing diverge as older adults attempt to draw upon available resources, reflective of their own social capital. Mitigators of malnutrition risk includes empowerment through social care located in the third sector, as well as social aspects of food access e.g. social eating, warranting future investigation. These findings are considered post Covid-19, with key policy implications.
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