The health and well-being impacts of community shared meal programs for older populations: A scoping review

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Background and Objectives
There are social and economic benefits to supporting individuals to live independently for as long as possible. Structured shared meal programs provide opportunities for older individuals to connect in their communities, and likely impact their health and well-being. Research in this area has not been summarised in recent years. This scoping review was undertaken to explore the impact shared meal programs may have for older community dwelling adults.
Research Design and Methods
Nine databases were systematically searched in 2020 and 5,996 unique studies were identified. Two independent reviewers screened titles, abstracts, and full text for inclusion. Reference lists of included papers were hand searched, and the search was updated in 2021. Eighteen studies were included in the final review.
Studies were published between 1980-2021 and most were published in the USA. Most studies were cross-sectional, two adopted a qualitative design, one a cohort design. Significant associations were reported between shared meal programs and improved dietary intake; however minimal improvements were reported for physical health measures. The programs had a positive impact on attendees’ social networks and perceived well-being.
Discussion and Implications
Structured shared meal programs show promise in supporting the health and well-being of older adults in the community. They provide additional nutrition, opportunities for social connection, and are perceived to contribute to perceived well-being. More investigation is required to understand how these programs work to facilitate health and well-being, and how they can best be used to improve health outcomes for older populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberigac068
Number of pages35
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number7
Early online date27 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2022


  • Review
  • Shared meals
  • Social eating
  • Mental health


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