People who live alone have poorer diets and single men fare particularly badly

    4 November 2015

    Research at Queensland University of Technology has found that people who live alone are more likely to have unhealthy diets.

    The study, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, suggests that single people’s eating habits are altered because of a lack of motivation to cook, the increased cost of buying food for one, and inadequate cooking skills.

    The researchers found that single men are particularly likely to have a poor diet as a result of living alone.

    The researchers collected data from 41 previous studies to investigate the link between living alone and poor nutrition. The study, which is the first comprehensive review of this association, found that the link remains across social and cultural divides.

    Dr Katherine Hanna, the study’s author, said: ‘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.

    ‘The number of individuals living alone in the developed world continues to increase and, in 2010, 23 per cent of households in Australia were lone-person households.

    ‘The research suggests living alone may represent a barrier to healthy eating that is related to the cultural and social roles of food and cooking. For example, a lack of motivation and enjoyment in cooking and/or eating alone often led to people preparing simple or ready-made meals lacking key nutrients.’

    ‘The absence of support or encouragement to comply with healthy eating guidelines and difficulty in managing portion control were also factors influencing diet.’

    Dr Hanna said there are several ways to address the barriers to healthy eating for people living alone.

    ‘These include programmes that focus on cooking skills for single people on a range of budgets, improved availability of affordable healthy food and developing socially acceptable opportunities for eating in communal settings.’