Eating Alone and Depressive Symptoms in Korea: Differential Effects According to Age

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:42
Oral Presentation
Hanso RYU, Chung-Ang University, South Korea
Min-Ah LEE, Chung-Ang University, Korea, Republic of (South)
It has been recognized that Honbop (Eating Alone) is an emerging social phenomenon in Korea and reflects increased social isolation. In fact, having a meal alone could be considered a type of individual lifestyles or a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, it may indicate a lack of social relationships influencing psychological well-being especially in more collective socio-cultural contexts like Korea. We sought to examine associations between eating alone and depressive symptoms with the 2014 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(KNHANES), a nationally representative sample. The findings show that eating alone is positively associated with depressive symptoms. As the frequencies of having a meal alone a day increase, the level of depressive symptoms also increase. In addition, the effects of eating alone vary according to meal time among breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It appears that not only whether eating alone but also when to eat alone are associated with level of depressive symptoms. Significant interactions between eating alone and age are also detected, which shows that associations between eating alone and depressive symptoms differ by age. Eating alone is more deleterious for mental health as age increases. The findings of the study suggest that eating alone could be an indicator of social isolation, which is more critical for older adults.