Rising Food Prices Hit Less-Healthy Older Adults Hardest, Poll Suggests

Three-quarters of people age 50–80 in the United States say the rising cost of groceries has affected them somewhat or a lot, and nearly a third say they’re eating less healthily because of increased food costs, according to new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Among those saying that the rising cost of groceries has impacted them a lot, rates were higher among those who rate their physical health as fair or poor (46%), those who rate their mental health as fair or poor (58%), those with household incomes under $30,000 (56%) and those who have a high school education or less (48%).

The pinch of inflation is having a direct impact on what foods older adults are buying. More than a third (36%) of those age 50 to 64 said their diet is less healthy because of rising costs, compared with 24% of those age 65 to 80.

Across the entire poll population, the percentages saying they were eating less healthily because of cost were higher among those who rate their mental health as fair or poor (54%), those with household incomes under $30,000 (48%), those who rate their physical health as fair or poor (46%), and those who have a high school education or less (40%).

Respondents also answered questions asking them to look back on the past 12 months, and say whether two statements were often true, sometimes true or never true about their household. In all, 4% of older adults said it was often true that they worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more, and 15% said this had been sometimes true. Meanwhile, just under 4% said that this had actually happened to them often, and another 12% said it had happened sometimes in the last 12 months.

More info on these findings are available on the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging here.