Predictors of food variety and dietary diversity among older persons in Botswana



Publication Details

Clausen, T., Charlton, K. E., Gobotswang, K. & Holmboe-Ottesen, G. (2005). Predictors of food variety and dietary diversity among older persons in Botswana. Nutrition, 21 (1), 86-95.


We investigated whether food variety and diversity are associated with physical and cognitive functioning in older adults in Botswana and designed a simple set of screening questions that predict food variety in this population. Data were collected (1998) as a national household survey of 1085 subjects 60 y and older. A food variety score, based on a food frequency checklist, was calculated by summing the frequency of weekly intakes of 16 food items (0 to 66). A dietary diversity score was calculated as the number of food groups consumed weekly (0 to 5). A representative subsample ( n = 393) was randomly selected for the clinical component of the survey, and measurements on dependency and cognitive function were conducted. Low food variety was found: 35.2%, 59.3%, and 22.4% of subjects consumed no dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, respectively. A higher food variety score was associated with urban residence, ownership of cattle, higher education, and more frequent meals, and these indicators were used to construct a nutritional risk indicator. Higher food variety score was associated with better self-reported health and better cognitive function. Similarly, a higher score on the nutritional risk indicator screening tool was associated with desirable health outcomes. A limited number of foods is consumed, leading to an overall pattern of poor food variety. Higher food variety was associated with improved physical and cognitive functions. A screening tool that predicts food variety in this population has been developed and is recommended to be incorporated at a primary care level to identify older adults most at risk of a poor quality diet.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.



Link to publisher version (DOI)