Nutr Res Pract.  2020 Jun;14(3):242-251. 10.4162/nrp.2020.14.3.242.

Disparities in dietary quantity and quality between the two different types of Korean family of older adults living with spouses and living alone: using data from the 6th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition, Myongji University, Yongin 17058, Korea


This study was conducted to examine disparities in food and nutrient intakes based on family types identified among 1,856 participants who were the Korean elderly people in the 6th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHNES) excluding those who were currently practicing the diet therapy.
We separated the subjects into two groups: living alone (LA, n = 638) and living with a spouse (LS, n = 1,218). We also examined the disparities of dietary quantity and quality of those two groups using complex sampling design general linear regression analyses (CS GLM).
In the LA group, there was a higher percentage of females and average age in LA group was higher than the participants in the LS group. Household income and education level were significantly lower in LA compared to those of LS. The frequencies of skipping meals were higher in LA. LA's food and nutrient intakes showed lower consumption of vegetables, fruits, seaweeds, and of most nutrients. Even after adjusting for the confounding factors, the consumption of vegetables, seaweeds, carbohydrates, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin C showed lower in LA than LS. Moreover, LA's nutrient intake ratios compared to the KDRIs were lower which turned out to be similar to their nutrient intakes.
These results show that dietary behavior and food intake of the elderly are associated with family types. Frequently skipping meals and less dietary variety are more common with elderly persons who were living alone. Therefore, it is necessary to integrate the supplementary food programs and nutrition education programs for the elderly living alone.


Korean elderly; family types; dietary behavior; food intake; nutrient intake
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