Department of Nutrition
Adequate nutrition is critical to human health and well-being. Consumption of fruit and vegetables is a major contributor to adequate nutrition for all age groups. Older adults are at increased risk for inadequate nutrition in part due to unique barriers to obtaining fruits and vegetables. For example, access to fruits and vegetables and inability to travel to grocery stores or other traditional food outlets can be particularly challenging for older adults who may have limited physical mobility and / or few transportation options, especially if they no longer drive.
In this project, we will work with other participating regional research project investigators to assess aging adults' perceptions and recommendations for community environmental supports for a food secure, culturally appropriate and healthy eating environment. The purpose of these studies is to identify the most important and modifiable enablers and behaviors of healthy eating among aging adults. To accomplish this, mixed methodology approaches will be used, including both qualitative and quantitative methods such as focus groups and consumer surveys.
Mounting epidemiological and experimental evidence consistently indicates that obesity is a robust risk factor, with 50~100% increase in risk for CRC. As obesity has reached an epidemic level and increases in the scope of the problem are projected, it is critical to understand the mechanism(s) responsible for the link and thereby to develop preventive strategies. The ultimate goal is, through the completion of this project, to facilitate the development of preventive approaches to diminish dietary obesity associated CRC.
Low fruit and vegetable intake is recognized as a significant risk factor for poor health outcomes including an increased risk of overweight and obesity and subsequent co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake serves as a protective factor against obesity and chronic disease. The overall goal of this project is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in a target community by integrating expertise in Agriculture, Food Access, and Nutrition Education programming.
Over the past 30 years obesity rates have doubled for young children (6-11 year olds) and quadrupled for adolescents (12-19 years) to 18% and 21%, respectively, with the latest figures indicating more than a third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. These obese children are more likely to become obese adults and are at increased risk for developing health conditions normally seen in adulthood, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Although the medical breakthroughs in the early part of the 21st century have made significant progress in the treatment of many chronic diseases, disease prevention or even delay is of critical importance. Healthy People 2010 & 2020 and USDA dietary guidelines for Americans strongly recommend increased consumption of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and bioactive phytochemicals to prevent or attenuate diet-related chronic diseases and to improve health.
While good nutrition and moderate physical activity can promote health and delay disability in older adults, most do not follow dietary recommendations, and fruit, vegetable and whole grain consumption remains low. Several studies have indicated that older adults can increase fruit and vegetable intakes through nutrition education. Additional and innovative efforts are needed, however, to make progress toward achieving national guidelines in diverse populations of older adults.