Perceived environmental supports for fruit and vegetable consumption among older adults in the US

Qianzhi Jiang, Sarah L. Francis, Karen M. Chapman-Novakofski, McKenzie Wilt, Elena T. Carbone, Nancy L. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The physical and social environments surrounding food, whether perceived or observed, can influence consumers’ food choices by changing food access, and affordability, or by changing settings where food-related behaviors occur. Aim: To describe older adults’ perceived food environment, identify the most important sites and factors that enable healthy eating, and explore older adults’ recommendations for communities to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption. Methods: Participants aged 60 and older from metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, Iowa, and Illinois completed a researcher-administered survey to rate the perceived environment including accessibility, availability, and affordability of fruits and vegetables, and perceived importance of factors and establishments related to fruit and vegetable consumption. Participants also suggested changes for establishments to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption. Results: The majority of the 142 participants perceived their food environment for fruits and vegetables as not difficult to access (85.2%) with good or excellent availability (90.1%). Education, marital status, and race were associated with some aspects of the perceived food environment. Perceived accessibility and supermarkets were rated as the most important factor and establishment, respectively, to facilitate fruit and vegetable consumption across all study sites. Participants proposed recommendations to address the availability, quality, accessibility and affordability of fruits and vegetables. Conclusion: Interventions promoting accessible, affordable, quality fruits and vegetables may improve older adult consumers’ perceptions of their food environment. Communities may also use undervalued resources such as mobile markets more strategically to provide additional support for healthy eating in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Older adults
  • behavioral settings
  • enablers
  • fruits and vegetables
  • perceived food environment
  • social-ecological model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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