Objectives Nutrition literacy refers to an individual’s knowledge, motivation and competencies to access, process, and understand nutrition information needed to make appropriate nutrition-related decisions. It is known to influence dietary habits of older adults. This cross-sectional study was designed to: (1) understand the nutrition knowledge, competencies and attitudes of community-dwelling older adults in Singapore (2) examine the differences between their nutrition knowledge, and socio-demographic factors, competencies and attitudes, and (3) identify factors associated with better nutrition knowledge in community-dwelling older adults in Singapore.
Methods 400 (183 males and 217 females) nourished community-dwelling older adults aged 65 years and above took part in this study. Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) was used to determine individuals who were at low risk of undernutrition. Nutrition knowledge, competencies, attitudes and sources of nutrition information were measured using a locally developed scale. Nutrition knowledge scores were summed to form the Nutrition Knowledge Index (NKI). Associations between NKI, competencies, attitudes and socio-demographic variables were examined using Chi-square and Fisher’s Exact tests. Factors associated with NKI were determined using a stepwise regression model with resampling based methods for model averaging.
Results Bivariate analyses found significant differences in NKI scores for gender, monthly household earnings, type of housing, the self-reported ability to seek and understand nutrition information and having access to help from family/friends. Females had higher NKI scores compared to males ( p < 0.001). Compared to females, more males left food decisions to others ( p < 0.001), and fewer males reported consuming home cooked food ( p = 0.016). Differences in educational level were found for competencies like the self-reported ability to seek ( p < 0.001) and verify nutrition information ( p < 0.001). Stepwise regression analysis showed that being female, Chinese, self-reported ability to understand nutrition information and having access to help from family/friends were associated with higher NKI scores.
Conclusions Our study revealed that nutrition knowledge of older males in Singapore was lower than females and more left food decisions to others. Hence, nutrition education programs could be targeted at both the older male and their caregivers.