Nutritional status, dietary habits, nutritional knowledge and self-care assessment in a group of older adults attending community centres in Pavia, Northern Italy
G. Turconi, Department of Public Health, Neuroscience, Experimental and Forensic Medicine, Section of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pavia, Via Bassi 21, I-27100 Pavia, Italy.
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The population of industrialised countries is ageing as a consequence of an increase in life expectancy. As a result of the increasing ageing process, the assessment of nutritional status and dietary habits, as well as the assessment of self-care, is needed to plan selected actions aimed at improving the quality of life in the third and fourth life spans.
A cross-sectional study was carried out on a randomly selected sample of 200 healthy older adults (≥65 years old), attending community centres for older people in Pavia, Northern Italy. Ninety-two percent of the recruited subjects participated in the survey. Anthropometric measurements and the Mini Nutritional Assessment were performed. Dietary habits, nutritional knowledge and self-care were investigated using a questionnaire administered by two dietitians.
The majority of subjects were low socio-economic status and overweight [mean (SD) body mass index = 28.4 (4.3) kg/m2], 12% were malnourished according to their Mini Nutritional Assessment score and the majority of the arm muscle circumference measurements were below the 10th percentile, predicting accelerated loss of lean mass, even in the healthy independently living older adults. Only 30% of the sample had adequate dietary habits, whereas the ability to self-care was good for the whole sample.
The unhealthy and unbalanced diet, frequently too rich in sugar and fats and low in protein intake, might explain being overweight and the loss of lean mass in the study subjects.