Journal of Community Health

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 511–521 | Cite as

Factors Influencing Food Choices Among Older Adults in the Rural Western USA

  • Carmen Byker Shanks
  • Sarah Haack
  • Dawn Tarabochia
  • Kate Bates
  • Lori Christenson
Original Paper


Nutrition is an essential component in promoting health and quality of life into the older adults years. The purpose of this qualitative research is to explore how the rural food environment influences food choices of older adults. Four focus groups were conducted with 33 older adults (50 years of age and older) residing in rural Montana communities. Four major themes related to factors influencing food choices among rural older adults emerged from this study: perception of the rural community environment, support as a means of increasing food access, personal access to food sources, and dietary factors. The findings from this current study warrant further research and promotion of specifically tailored approaches that influence the food choices of older adults in the rural western USA, including the developing and expanding public transportation systems, increasing availability of local grocers with quality and affordable food options, increasing awareness and decreasing stigma surrounding community food programs, and increasing nutrition education targeting senior health issues.


Seniors Nutrition Food access Eating behaviors 



The authors would like to thank the AARP Foundation for financially supporting the work completed in this study through their Hunger Innovation Grants. AARP Foundation is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Byker Shanks
    • 1
  • Sarah Haack
    • 2
  • Dawn Tarabochia
    • 3
  • Kate Bates
    • 4
  • Lori Christenson
    • 5
  1. 1.Food and Health Lab, Department of Health and Human DevelopmentMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Censeo Consulting GroupWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Community Health, Montana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  4. 4.Dietetic Internship ProgramWestern Carolina UniversityAshevilleUSA
  5. 5.Environmental Health, Gallatin City-County Health DepartmentBozemanUSA

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