“I Always Buy the Purple Ones … If I See Them”: Socioecological Factors Influencing Anthocyanin-Rich Food Consumption for Cognitive Health in Older Adults

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Despite the positive relationship between anthocyanin-rich foods and cognitive health, a dietary deficit exists in older adults. Effective interventions require an understanding of people’s dietary behaviors situated in social and cultural contexts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore older adults’ perceptions about increasing their consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods for cognitive health. Following an educational session and the provision of a recipe and information book, an online survey and focus groups with Australian adults aged 65 years or older (n = 20) explored the barriers and enablers towards eating more anthocyanin-rich foods and potential strategies to achieve dietary change. An iterative, qualitative analysis identified the themes and classified the barriers, enablers and strategies onto the Social-Ecological model levels of influence (individual, interpersonal, community, society). Enabling factors included a desire to eat healthily, taste preference and familiarity of anthocyanin-rich foods (individual), social support (community), and the availability of some anthocyanin-rich foods (society). The barriers included budget, dietary preferences and motivation (individual), household influences (interpersonal), limited availability and access to some anthocyanin-rich foods (community) and the cost and the seasonal variability (society). The strategies included increasing individual-level knowledge, skills, and confidence in utilizing anthocyanin-rich foods, educational initiatives about the potential cognitive benefits, and advocating to increase access to anthocyanin-rich foods in the food supply. This study provides for the first time, insight into the various levels of influence impacting older adults’ ability to consume an anthocyanin-rich diet for cognitive health. Future interventions should be tailored to reflect the barriers and enablers and to provide targeted education about anthocyanin-rich foods.

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University of Western Sydney



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