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With the rapidly increasing American elderly population, food companies, healthcare workers, and policy makers alike are asking whether the dietary habits and food consumption patterns of this growing segment of the U.S. population will follow those of current and past elderly people or whether their cohort will eat like they did when they were younger. The purpose of this report is to review what is known about changes in nutritional intake and food consumption patterns that are associated with cohorts (generational) and with the aging process in the U.S. population. Recent literature on cohort and aging effects related to food consumption indicates that the aging effect is greater than the cohort effect. That is, diets change as people age, due to factors such as food availability, new information, new cumulative experiences, and physiological changes as bodies mature. Cohort effect is more likely due to changes in income, i.e., each succeeding cohort realizing higher real per capita income. Variation in findings is likely due to different data sources and analytic methods. Information on data sources and common databases used in these types of studies are also reviewed.


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