Social aspects of meals and eating alone among older people

According to the World Health Organization, healthy ageing refers to developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age. As the world’s older population is increasing, both in number and proportion, healthy ageing is an increasingly relevant topic. Two issues often discussed regarding healthy ageing is loneliness and food intake, and these two are linked together within this PhD project that studies the social aspects of meals for older people.

Eating together, also called commensality, is often seen as something positive regarding food intake and psychosocial well-being in later life. Eating alone, in contrast, is seen as a risk factor even though literature is ambiguous on whether or not eating alone is negative. Yet, analysis that specifically target older peoples’ varied notions of eating alone are scarce. Therefore, this project further examines eating alone among older people, using a multimethod approach. In qualitative interviews, we’re focusing on how eating alone can be experienced and reflected upon. Furthermore, a cross-sectional survey examines if and, if so, how eating alone or together with others are associated with health, and food habits, and investigates if potential associations are modified by if and how often eating alone is experienced as troublesome. 

Amanda Björnwall

PhD student at Department of food studies, nutrition and dietetics


Nicklas Neuman

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of food studies, nutrition and dietetics

Last modified: 2023-05-26