A research team from the University of Queensland (QUT) looked into 41 separate studies that covers nutrition and eating habits. Dr. Katherine Hanna and Dr. Peter Collins from the QUT found that lack of cooking knowledge and motivation, increasing food cost and lack of partner to go grocery shopping all affect the increased intake of ready-made meals among people who live alone.
The research team also found the men are more at risk to succumb to consuming fast and convenient meals that may lack in nutrients. Findings also showed the people who were recently divorced and elderly adults are also at risk of developing poor diet.
"Our results found that people who live alone have a lower diversity of food intake and a lower consumption of some core food groups like fruits and vegetables and fish," said Dr. Katherine Hanna, nutrition and dietetics lecturer at QUT.
Hanna added that economic factors and lack of motivation and cooking skills play roles in the development of unhealthy eating habits. Consumption of healthy options like fish, fruits and vegetables require regular purchase which could be costly for people who live alone. Divorced people who live alone also have higher risks since they may have relied on other people to prepare meals at home.
"The psychological impacts of living alone can also influence diet. Previous research has found loneliness, for example, is a significant predictor of malnutrition in the elderly," said Hanna.
The findings suggest that solo living could be an obstacle to healthy eating habits for some people. The lack of encouragement and support that complement healthy eating and the difficulty in portion management are factors that can affect one's diet. Despite the diverse demographic of people who live alone, the findings suggest that they could all be unprepared for cooking their own meals due to various personal reasons. Hanna expressed that accessibility to easy cooking classes can help alleviate the problem, as well as availability of healthier food options.
In 2012 to 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that there are approximately 2.1 million Australians who live alone.
The researchers published their findings in the Nutrition Reviews journal.
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