Poster Abstract| Volume 48, ISSUE 7, SUPPLEMENT , S48, July 2016

Exploring Rural Older Adults’ Perception of Healthful Eating


      This study explored rural older Oklahomans’ perceptions of healthful eating in order to inform the development of an older adult educational program. The objectives of this study were to explore rural older adults’ perceptions of: the meaning of healthful eating, barriers to healthful eating, and preferences for receiving education.

      Design, Setting, and Participants

      A qualitative study was conducted in rural Oklahoma communities using the social marketing principles of product, price, promotion, and place to guide the inquiry. Forty-seven community-dwelling older adults, 65 years of age and older, participated in seven focus groups.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using content analysis.


      In terms of product, four major themes were identified for the meaning of healthful eating including necessity, health, enjoyment, and social interaction. Purchasing and preparing healthful food, eating a variety of foods especially fruits and vegetables, consuming smaller portions, and using less fat, sugar, and salt were identified as actions older adults could take to eat healthfully. Relative to price, identified barriers to healthful eating included cost, age-related limitations, shopping and cooking for one or two, motivation, and conflicting recommendations. Related to promotion, preferences were for educational programs which empowered older adults to take actions to eat healthfully and for printed materials. In terms of place, older adults indicated preferences for education programs in familiar community locations.

      Conclusions and Implications

      These findings suggest older adults would benefit from an educational program focusing on selecting less expensive healthful foods, for one or two, which are quick are easy to prepare.


      Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education