Consumption of fruit and vegetables among elderly people: a cross sectional study from Iran

American Journal of Gastroenterology

Volume - Number

Article Type: ---- Unspecified ----

Background: There is substantial evidence that low consumption of fruit and vegetables (FV) is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases. The aim of this study was to assess FV consumption and the variables that influence it among elderly individuals in Iran aged 60 and over. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study to investigate FV intake by a randomly-selected sample of members of elderly centers in Tehran, Iran. A multidimensional questionnaire was used to collect data on demographic characteristics, daily consumption of FV, knowledge, self-efficacy, social support, perceived benefits, and barriers against FV. Data were analyzed using t-tests, one way analysis of variance, Pearson correlation, and logistic regression. Results: In total, 400 elderly individuals took part in the study. The mean age of the participants was 64.07 (SD = 4.49) years, and most were female (74.5%). The mean number of FV servings per day was 1.76 (SD = 1.15). Ninety-seven percent of participants (n = 388) did not know the recommended intake was at least five servings of FV per day. Similarly, 88.3% (n = 353) did not know the size of a single serving. The most frequent perceived benefits of and barriers against FV consumption were availability and expense, respectively. Knowledge (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.39-0.88), perceived benefits (OR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.88-0.96) and barriers (OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.04-1.14), self-efficacy (OR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.83-0.95) and family support (OR = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.83-0.99) were significantly associated with fruit and vegetable consumption. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that FV intake among elderly individuals in Iran was lower than the recommended minimum of five daily servings and varied greatly with age, marital status, educational attainment, and income level. The results also indicated that low perceived benefits, low self-efficacy, and perceived barriers could lead to lower consumption of FV. It seems that in order to improve FV consumption among elderly individuals in Iran, raising awareness, improving perception of benefits and enhancing self-efficacy regarding FV consumption should receive more attention. Indeed, it is essential to plan health education programs and nutritional interventions for this group of the population.