Poor Appetite and Dietary Intake in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Barbara S van der Meij, Hanneke A H Wijnhoven, Jung S Lee, Denise K Houston, Trisha Hue, Tamara B Harris, Stephen B Kritchevsky, Anne B Newman, Marjolein Visser

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BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Poor appetite in older adults leads to sub-optimal food intake and increases the risk of undernutrition. The impact of poor appetite on food intake in older adults is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the differences in food intake among older community-dwelling adults with different reported appetite levels.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of data from a longitudinal prospective study.

SETTING: Health, aging, and body composition study performed in the USA.

PARTICIPANTS: 2,597 community-dwelling adults aged 70-79.

MEASUREMENTS: A semi-quantitative, interviewer-administered, 108-item food frequency questionnaire designed to estimate dietary intake. Poor appetite was defined as the report of a moderate, poor, or very poor appetite in the past month and was compared with good or very good appetite.

RESULTS: The mean age of the study sample was 74.5 ± 2.8 years; 48.2% were men, 37.7% were black, and 21.8% reported a poor appetite. After adjustment for total energy intake and potential confounders (including biting/chewing problems), participants with a poor appetite had a significantly lower consumption of protein and dietary fiber, solid foods, protein rich foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but a higher consumption of dairy foods, fats, oils, sweets, and sodas compared to participants with very good appetite. In addition, they were less likely to report consumption of significant larger portion sizes.

CONCLUSION: Older adults reporting a poor appetite showed a different dietary intake pattern compared to those with (very) good appetite. Better understanding of the specific dietary intake pattern related to a poor appetite in older adults can be used for nutrition interventions to enhance food intake, diet variety, and diet quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2190-2197
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
Early online date26 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


From the *Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; †Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; ‡Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Robina, Australia; §Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Mater Health Services, Brisbane, Australia; ¶Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA; **Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, USA; ††Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA;‡‡Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, National Institute of Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA; and §§Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, SA. Sponsor’s role: This research was supported by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, grant number: 200320014; this research was supported in part by National Institute on Aging (NIA), contracts: N01-AG-6-2101; N01-AG-6-2103; N01-AG-6-2106; NIA grant R01-AG028050, and NINR grant R01-NR012459. Funding for this paper was provided by the European Union Horizon 2020 PROMISS Project PRevention Of Malnutrition In Senior Subjects in the EU, grant agreement number: 678732. Sponsors provided funding for the study, but were not involved in the design, methods, subject recruitment, data collection, analysis, or preparation of the paper.

FundersFunder number
EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences
European Union Horizon 2020 PROMISS678732
The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development200320014
National Institutes of Health
National Institute on AgingN01-AG-6-2106, N01-AG-6-2101, R01-AG028050, ZIAAG007390, N01-AG-6-2103
National Institute of Nursing ResearchR01-NR012459
University of Georgia
University of Pittsburgh
University of California, San Francisco
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Bond University
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


    • Aged
    • Appetite
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • Diet Surveys
    • Eating
    • Feeding Behavior
    • Female
    • Geriatric Assessment
    • Humans
    • Independent Living
    • Journal Article
    • Longitudinal Studies
    • Male
    • Prospective Studies
    • Surveys and Questionnaires
    • United States


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