Public Health Nutrition


Food shopping habits, physical activity and health-related indicators among adults aged ≥70 years

Janice L Thompsona1 c1, Georgina Bentleya1, Mark Davisa1, Jo Coulsona1, Afroditi Stathia2 and Kenneth R Foxa1

a1 Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, 8 Priory Road, Bristol BS81TZ, UK

a2 School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK


Objective To investigate the food shopping habits of older adults in the UK and explore their potential associations with selected health-related indicators.

Design A cross-sectional study including objectively measured physical activity levels, BMI, physical function and self-reported health status and dietary intake.

Setting Bristol, UK.

Subjects A total of 240 older adults aged ≥70 years living independently.

Results Mean age was 78·1 (sd 5·7) years; 66·7 % were overweight or obese and 4 % were underweight. Most (80·0 %) carried out their own food shopping; 53·3 % shopped at least once weekly. Women were more likely to shop alone (P < 0·001) and men more likely to shop with their spouse (P < 0·001). Men were more likely than women to drive to food shopping (P < 0·001), with women more likely to take the bus or be driven (P < 0·001). Most reported ease in purchasing fruit and vegetables (72·9 %) and low-fat products (67·5 %); 19·2 % reported low fibre intakes and 16·2 % reported high fat intakes. Higher levels of physical function and physical activity and better general health were significantly correlated with the ease of purchasing fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat products. Shopping more often was associated with higher fat intake (P = 0·03); higher levels of deprivation were associated with lower fibre intake (P = 0·019).

Conclusions These findings suggest a pattern of food shopping carried out primarily by car at least once weekly at large supermarket chains, with most finding high-quality fruit, vegetables and low-fat products easily accessible. Higher levels of physical function and physical activity and better self-reported health are important in supporting food shopping and maintaining independence.

(Received August 27 2010)

(Accepted February 25 2011)

(Online publication May 06 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email