Nutritional Status of Elderly in Taiwan

Nutritional Status of Functionally Dependent and Nonfunctionally Dependent Elderly in Taiwan

Yi-Chia Huang, RD, PhD, Song-Lin Wueng, RD, MS, Chu-Chyn Ou, RD, MS, Chien-Hsiang Cheng, MD, and Kuo-Hsiung Su, PhD

School of Nutrition and Institute of Nutritional Science, Chung Shan Medical and Dental College (Y.-C. H., S.-L.W., C.-C.O., K.H.S), Veterans General Hospital (C.-H.C), Taichung, TAIWAN, REPUBLIC OF CHINA []

Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure and compare nutritional status of the functionally dependent elderly with those nonfunctionally dependent elderly by assessing nutrient intake, anthropometric measurements, hematological and biochemical parameters, and the nutritional risk index (NRI).

Methods: Ninety-six volunteers (42 functionally dependent elderly, 54 nonfunctionally dependent elderly) participated in this study. The items of activity of daily living (ADL) were assessed to determine functional status. Demographic and health data were collected at the time of interview. Subjects completed 24-hour diet recall and food frequency questionnaires. Height, weight and skinfold thickness measurements were taken. Hematological and biochemical parameters were measured. The NRI was then calculated.

Results: Osteoporosis and hypertension were the most frequently reported chronic diseases. A small proportion of the elderly with functional dependence (9.5%) and with nonfunctional dependence (13%) had a body mass index (BMI) ( 21 kg/m2), indicating they were underweight. There were no significant differences in nutrient intake between the two groups. However, a higher percentage of the functionally dependent elderly had a nutrient intake of less than 75% of the Taiwan Recommended Daily Nutrient Allowance (RDNA). The functionally dependent group had a higher prevalence of malnutrition than the nonfunctionally dependent group (44.7% vs. 25%) based on the NRI.

Conclusions: These functionally dependent elderly people exhibited a poorer nutritional status than the nonfunctionally dependent elderly. The elderly with functional dependence were at risk for inadequate iron intake and abnormal serum triglyceride concentrations; they were also at greater risk for chronic diseases and had a greater need for medications.

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