Dietary Diversity and Food Expenditure as Indicators of Food Security in Older Taiwanese

Journal Article

Yuan-Ting Lo, Yu-Hung Chang, Meei-Shyuan Lee, Mark L. Wahlqvist*
* MAI Emeritus Professor

Published in Appetite 2012, Volume 58.
A copy of the full paper is available for purchase at the Science Direct website

SUMMARY: Food quality is a measure of food security in vulnerable groups. The elderly are often nutritionally vulnerable, but how much of this is reflected in food quality and determined by financial status is unclear. We determined whether expenditure on dietary quality challenges food security in the aged. We used the representative Elderly Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan during 1999–2000 (n = 1783), and evaluated dietary quality by a Dietary Diversity Score (DDS, range: 0–6) based on a 24-h dietary recall. Monthly mean national food prices were used to estimate food expenditure. In general, it was found to cost more to achieve a greater DDS. The food expenditure of subjects whose DDS = 6 was 2.20 times greater than the DDS < 3 group, after controlling for covariates. Elders of lower socioeconomic status tended to choose foods which would have cost less. However, a sub-group of elders who achieve the highest DDS with limited money offer approaches to food-money management. Nutrition policy directed to food insecure groups, like the aged, could employ health promotion strategies which reduce financial barriers to healthy eating.