Tailored nutrition education in the elderly can lead to sustained dietary behaviour change

Document Type

Journal Article



Place of Publication



School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as: Wallace, R., Lo, J., Devine, A. (2016). Tailored nutrition education in the elderly can lead to sustained dietary behaviour change. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 20(1), 8-15. Available here.


Objectives: Evaluate a 4-week dementia specific nutrition education intervention to determine long term knowledge and healthy dietary behaviour changes in 72 elderly men and women. Design: A mixed method design used qualitative findings to triangulate quantitative within-subject changes to determine efficacy and sustained dietary behaviour change. Setting: Community. Participants: 72 independently-living individuals. Intervention: 4-week dementia specific nutrition education intervention. Measurements: Change in participant attitude, confidence, dietary patterns, cooking behaviour, and knowledge were analysed within-subjects using non-parametric repeated-measures procedures. Significance level was set at 5% (α = 0.05). Effect size (ES) was reported and identified as small (S), medium (M) or large (L) if a significant change was observed. Results: Compared to before the nutrition education intervention participants had an increase in total knowledge (p < 0.001, ES = 0.972 (L)), consumed a greater variety of vegetables (p = 0.007, ES = 0.35 (M)), used less salt (p = 0.006, ES = −0.42 (M-L)) and increased spice use (p < 0.001, ES = 0.40 (M-L)). Participants overcame barriers to enable sustained change, held a positive view on healthy living and believed government should invest in this sector of the community. Sharing and socialisation emerged as important themes that increased program satisfaction. Conclusion: The dementia specific nutrition program produced a large effect in knowledge improvement from pre to post, which was retained at follow up, consolidated observational and participatory learning which produced a moderate increase in healthy dietary behaviours which participants valued and sustained.