Food accessibility and perceptions of shopping difficulty among elderly people living alone in Japan

Midori Ishikawa, T. Yokoyama, T. Nakaya, Y. Fukuda, Y. Takemi, K. Kusama, N. Yoshiike, M. Nozue, K. Yoshiba, N. Murayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This aim of this study was to describe the association between shopping difficulty and food accessibility for elderly people living alone in Japan. Design: A cross-sectoral, multilevel survey was designed to measure shopping difficulty from a food accessibility perspective. The questionnaire was distributed by mail. Setting: The sample was drawn from seven towns and cities across Japan. Participants: A geographic information system was used to select the sample: it identified the proximity of elderly people living alone to a supermarket. In total, 2,028 elderly people (725 men and 1,303 women) responded to the questionnaire. Measurements: The binary dependent variables were shopping is easy/shopping is difficult. A logistic regression analysis adjusting for age and area of residence and using stepwise variable analyses was performed. Results: The response rate was 58.6%. Overall, 14.6% of elderly men and 21.7% of elderly women consider shopping difficult. The stepwise logistic analysis showed that the food accessibility factors strongly related to shopping difficulty are infrequent car use (women: OR = 6.97), walking difficulties (men: OR = 2.81, women: OR = 3.48), poor eyesight (men: OR = 2.26, women: OR = 1.75), not cooking lunch by oneself (men: OR = 1.63, women: OR = 1.72), not having anyone to help with food shopping (women: OR = 1.45) and living over 1 km away from a supermarket (men: OR = 2.30, women: OR = 2.97). Conclusion: The study concludes that elderly people’s assessment of shopping difficulty is related to their food accessibility. Important food accessibility aspects include car or motorbike ownership, walking continuously for 1 km, poor eyesight, and having cooking skills and having someone to help with shopping. These physical activity restrictions have a greater influence on shopping difficulty than do either income or proximity to a supermarket.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-911
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1


  • Elderly living alone
  • food accessibility
  • Japan
  • shopping difficulty


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