The aim of this study was to determine if (1) participation in Home-Delivered Meals (HDM) results in improved dietary patterns and nutrient intake, lower food insecurity, and reduced loss of weight; (2) subgroups of older persons are more likely to benefit; and (3) nutritional indicators of impact other than nutrient intake may be useful. The design used was quasi-experimental, with longitudinal assessment of individuals on HDM at baseline (before receipt of services), 6, and 12 months, and comparison to non-randomized group receiving other services. Outcomes included measured weight and height, 24-hour dietary recall, and food insecurity. Paired t test, multiple linear regression, and selection models using multiple logistic regression were performed. All older persons in three New York State counties referred for aging services over a 5-month period were asked to participate (n=456), and 212 agreed (171 on HDM). At 6 months, the sample size was 101 (34 discharged, 42 hospital/died/moved, 26 chose not to continue), and at 12 months it was 68 (similar reasons). After receiving meals for 6 and 12 months, participants showed greater improvement in most dietary intake variables than either a non-HDM comparison group or HDM participants who ate no HDM meal on the day of assessment. Compared to initial values, participants improved significantly in some variables for dietary patterns, nutrient intake, and nutrient density, and were less likely to be food insecure. Furthermore, HDM was more likely to impact those living alone and those with poorer initial status. This study provides strong evidence that HDM has a positive impact on the nutritional well-being of older persons. Food insecurity and dietary patterns are useful nutritional indicators of impact.
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