Susan A. Best


The purpose of this study was to identify the number of older adults who were at high nutritional risk in Monroe County and to determine what risk factors or nutritional problems are most prevalent. Another goal was to assess the relationship between the demographics and risk factors.

The Nutrition Screening Initiative's (NSI) "Determine Your Nutritional Health" Checklist contains 10 risk factors that have been shown to be associated with nutritional risk. Regular routine nutrition screening is promoted by the NSI and other health professionals to help identify individuals at nutritional risk and to initiate the appropriate intervention. Early intervention may delay or prevent costly health problems and improve the quality of life of older adults. The Checklist was included in a 26-item telephone survey which was administered to 403 households randomly selected from the Monroe County, NY voter registration list of adults aged 60 or older.

The risk factors had a corresponding value which produced a low, moderate or high nutritional risk score. Of the sample, 15.7% received a high nutritional risk score. The risk factors that were most prevalent in the total sample include: illness affecting food intake, inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables and milk products, multiple drug use and consuming meals alone.

High nutritional risk scores were most associated with risk factors that were affected by financial constraints such as not having enough money to buy food, consuming less than two meals per day, and tooth or mouth problems affecting food intake. High risk was more likely to occur with respondents of low socioeconomic status, who are non-white and live alone; thus, adequately funded programs that provide financial assistance with food purchases, meals and dental work may help to reduce risk for this population.

The moderate risk group (34%) included whites and non-whites of all income levels who shared risk factors that pertained to illness, use of medications and eating few fruits, vegetables or milk products. Thus, nutrition screening for older adults and medical nutrition therapy (for all individuals) must be included in basic health benefit packages. Nutrition professionals must document their work to provide cost/benefit data and help with the promotion of medical nutrition therapy. A large survey found 80% of health professionals believe nutrition therapy should be included in benefit packages and physician support is especially important.

A correlation was not found between risk and the age of the respondents, but as age increased, respondents were more likely to eat alone and to have difficulty with grocery shopping and cooking.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Older people--Nutrition--Longitudinal studies; Older people--New York (State)--Monroe County--Nutrition--Longitudinal studies

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Hospitality-Tourism Management (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Food, Hotel and Travel Management (CAST)


Carol Whitlock

Advisor/Committee Member

Elizabeth Kmiecinski

Advisor/Committee Member

Edward Stockham


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TX361.A3 B48 1994


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