Food safety perception and nutritional habits in elderly: preliminary results of a pilot study to know the needs and promote active ageing

Patrizia Laurenti, Chiara De Waure, Concetta De Meo, Matteo Raponi, Dario Sacchini, Roberto Bernabei, Ester Manes Gravina, Francesco Landi, Antonio Sgadari, Claudio Grassi, Walter Ricciardi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


Introduction Nearly one third of the EU citizens will be aged 65 or over in 2060, with significant challenges for welfare systems. Nutrition security and food safety as well as knowledge of necessary measures to protect oneself from unbalanced or hazardous nutritional habits are essential for active aging. In fact, older adults are more vulnerable to food-borne illness. In people >85 years, the risk for infection and deaths related to food-borne pathogens increases, because of the decrease in immune function, concomitant chronic diseases, malnutrition, immobility and other factors. In order to evaluate knowledge, experiences and attitudes of a sample of elderly >65 years old attending the Centre of Aging Medicine of Gemelli Teaching Hospital (GTH), an articulate questionnaire (49 question) was elaborated to investigate which socioeconomic or ethical factors are related to the risk for unsafe food assumption and unsecure nutrition habits. Methods The Chi-Square test was used to study the association between socioeconomic variables and frequency of fish consumption and perception of fish safety. These variables were chosen because of the important nutritional and safety implications of fish. Results We interviewed 30 elderly attending the Geriatrics Ward (n = 10), the Outpatient unit (n = 10) and the Gym (n = 10) of the Center of Aging Medicine of GTH. The mean age of the sample was 76 years. 60% of them eat pasta daily; 50% seldom red meat; 63% fish 1-2 time a week; 86 % olive oil daily, 100% fresh fruit and 83% fresh vegetables daily; 96% drink coffee daily. The preliminary results show a statistically significant association between work and infrequent fish consumption (p = 0.004) and between increasing level of education and perception that fish is unsafe (p = 0.026). Conclusions These preliminary results underline the need for empowerment of elderly with respect to nutritional health and food safety. They could help to promote specific and targeted educational interventions for the elderly and their care-givers (also general practitioners) for disease prevention and health protection, that is longevity of the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-287
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event7th European Public Health Conference - Glasgow
Duration: 19 Nov 201422 Nov 2014


  • Elderly
  • Food safety


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