While no one is spared the higher cost of everyday essentials due to the rising rate of inflation, some groups of people seem to be hit harder. Certain older adults are finding it particularly difficult to buy food, according to a poll conducted in July of this year. Over a third of those between the age of 50 and 80 say the increasing cost of food impacts them a lot.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food costs increased 13 percent between July 2021 and July 2022 with a continued rise of another 10 percent predicted for 2023.
The National Poll on Healthy Aging was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. The information collected suggests that inflation will worsen the large nutrition gaps that already exist for people over the age of 50.
Twenty percent of those surveyed said they had worried about running out of food until they got money to buy more, while 12 percent stated that had actually happened to them in the past year.
These are the four groups of older adults hit hardest by higher food prices according to the results of the poll:
- People who rate their physical health as fair or poor.
- Those who say their mental health is fair or poor.
- People with incomes under $30,000.
- Those with a high school education or less.
Food insecurity led to older adults eating less healthy diets — eating more processed food and sugary foods.
When questioned about their intake of fruits and vegetables, nearly 40 percent of older adults said they did not eat enough, but it was more likely among people who were in fair or poor physical or mental health. The rising cost of food was the reason cited most for eating fewer fruits and vegetables.
Nearly 30 percent of older adults stated they ate too many sweets, and almost 20 percent said they did not believe they got enough vitamins and minerals, but the percentage of those with less education, lower income or with fair or poor physical or mental health who answered yes to the questions was even higher.
Food costs increased 13 percent between July 2021 and July 2022 with a continued rise of another 10 percent predicted for 2023.
On the subject of body weight, about 70 percent of poll participants said they were slightly overweight or overweight, and 25 percent said they were of normal weight. Seven percent considered themselves underweight. Among those who said they were overweight, the percentage was even higher among people who reported fair or poor mental or physical health or an income less than $30,000. The percentage of people calling themselves underweight was highest among those with low income.
“For our most vulnerable older adults, the huge increase we’ve seen in food costs could make a bad situation worse,” Pretti Malani, who directed the poll, said in a statement, adding that there need to be better supports for the food needs of older adults.