Nzeagwu O.C and Michael O.E
Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, PMB 7267 Umuahia, Abia State. Nigeria
Author for correspondence: [email protected]
Background: Malnutrition in older persons is often under diagnosed. Careful nutritional assessment is necessary for both the successful diagnosis and development of comprehensive treatment plans for malnutrition in this population.
Objectives: The study assessed the nutritional vulnerability of the older persons using mini nutritional assessment (MNA) tool, evaluate their anthropometric status as well as factors affecting nutritional vulnerability of the hospitalized older patients in two major hospitals in Abia State, Nigeria.
Materials and methods: One hundred and nine hospitalized subjects (≥ 65years) who gave their informed consent participated in the study. Semi-structured questionnaire was used to elicit information on their socioeconomic/demographic characteristics, living conditions, health conditions and factors affecting nutritional vulnerability. MNA tool was used for nutritional vulnerability status. Anthropometric status was assessed by body mass index (BMI), mid upper arm circumference (MUAC), waist-hip ratio (WHR), waist circumference (WC) and calf circumference (CC) were assessed using standard procedures and compared with recommended standards. Nutritional vulnerability was assessed using MNA scores of 17-23.5 for subject at risk of malnutrition, <17 for malnourished and ≥ 24for well nourished. Pearson’s correlation was used to identify the significant (p<0.05) relationship between variables.
Results: Majority (62.4%) of the subjects were at risk of malnutrition, 27.5% were normal and 10.1% were malnourished. While 48.6% had normal BMI, 27.5%, 20.2% and 3.7% were underweight, overweight and obese. Most had normal CC (80.7%), WC (69.7%) and moderate WHR (54.1%). The health conditions more prevalent among the older persons were diabetes mellitus (20.2%), hypertension (11.9%), stroke (10.1%), and chronic kidney disease (7.3%). Significant relationship (p<0.05) existed between nutritional vulnerability, age, marital status, place of residence and level of education. Sex, occupation and source of income were not significantly associated (p>0.05) with nutritional vulnerability.
Conclusion: Most of the subjects were nutritionally at risk of malnutrition despite the percentage that had normal anthropometric status. Nutritional vulnerability was affected by age, marital status, residence and level of education.
Keywords: Vulnerability, assessment, older persons, hospitalized, MNA