Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Richard A. Cook

Second Committee Member

Dorothy J. Klimis-Zacas

Third Committee Member

Phillip A. Pratt


The older adult population (age 60+) is disproportionately susceptible to malnutrition. Therefore, there is a strong need for studies that examine nutritional risk in older adults. The average older adult has three chronic diseases and takes at least five prescription medications daily. Managing these chronic diseases is a major portion of the cost of total health care. An emphasis needs to be placed on preventive care for older adults to possibly slow the progression of these chronic conditions. The objectives of the study were to use the DETERMINE Your Nutritional Health Checklist to examine the nutritional risk of Maine seniors using a longitudinal as well as a trend analysis phase and to assess how whole grain intake is related to an individual's nutritional risk parameters. Participants were those involved in the Older Americans Act Elderly Nutrition Programs in Maine. The number of participants involved in the trend analysis phase was as follows: n2003= 4,698, n2004= 4,690, n2005= 4,600, n2006= 4,297, and n2007= 3,692. A sample of 137 participants was involved in the longitudinal phase which ran from 2003 to 2007. The following variables were considered when determining risk scores: age, gender, body mass index (BMI), county of residence, meal delivery method, and responses to the questions on the DETERMINE Your Nutritional Health Checklist. A sample of 122 participants was used to see how the intake of different types of grains correlated with an individual's level of nutritional risk. The frequency of grain consumption was determined by using a whole grain screener. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine whether the frequency of grain consumption had a statistically significant (p< 0.05) effect on the subject's nutritional risk score. The results of the study indicate that the home-delivered meal participants had roughly double the risk levels of those of the congregate participants, females had higher nutritional risk than males, and Young Old group participants (60-75 years old) had higher risk levels than Old Old group participants (> 75 years old). People in the underweight and obese BMI categories had the highest risk scores, and participants who lived in the more highly populated counties had lower risk scores. The results from the whole grain screener indicated that subjects who frequently consumed white pasta had higher risk levels than those who did not (p=0.04). Less geographic isolation, better functional status, good dentition status, limited medication intake, and nutrient-dense diets have all been shown to lower nutritional risk and improve the quality of life in older Maine adults. The effect that the intake of individual grain foods has on a person's level of nutritional risk needs further study.