Social support, stressful events, strain, dietary intake, and the elderly. Academic Article uri icon


  • Little research exists linking social support, stressors, and related nutritional strain (loss of appetite) with the risk of poor nutritional health. Relationships among these concepts were investigated using a sample of elderly Virginians. It was hypothesized that the risk of poor nutritional health (dietary inadequacy) is reduced among elderly with high levels of social support and exacerbated among those experiencing stressful events and strain. Moreover, it was hypothesized that the negative effects of stressful events and strain on the diet are mitigated by high levels of social support. Using multiple regression models, these hypotheses were tested, controlling for age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status. The results indicated that elderly with 1) an extensive friendship network have more adequate diets; 2) greater financial stress experience greater nutritional stress (poorer appetite); and 3) greater nutritional stress have less adequate diets. Moreover, companionship serves as a buffer against the negative effects of poor appetite on dietary intake.

published proceedings

  • Med Care

author list (cited authors)

  • McIntosh, W. A., Shifflett, P. A., & Picou, J. S.

citation count

  • 149

complete list of authors

  • McIntosh, WA||Shifflett, PA||Picou, JS

publication date

  • January 1989