Since the beginning of the 1990s, nutrition education and health promotion have increasingly focused on the influence of diet on the quality of life in old age. The Government′s Health of the Nation policy in 1991 and the COMA report on The Nutrition of Elderly People in 1992 both emphasized the need for older age groups to adopt the dietary changes recommended for the population as a whole. In order to promote healthier eating habits and consequently improve health status, it is first vital to understand what makes elderly people follow particular dietary patterns and, equally, which factors constrain their choice. Reviews the current state of research on the social, economic, psychological, physiological, educational and personal factors which mediate food choice in later life. Indications are that it is the structural influences on choice which have the greatest impact – education, income, class and access to good health care. As a result, action at national level in the form of health and social policy designed to take into account the needs of older generations is highlighted.
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