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To estimate the prevalence of malnutrition among free-living elderly in a rural population of south India.
Cross-sectional study. Nutritional status was assessed using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) questionnaire, which is an eighteen-item nutritional screening instrument used in the elderly.
Kaniyambadi block, a rural development block in the state of Tamil Nadu, south India.
Community-dwelling elderly (aged 60 years and above).
As evaluated by the MNA, 14 % of the 227 subjects were malnourished and 49 % were at risk of malnourishment. No significant difference was found between men and women. The majority of the elderly were living with their children, had no income and consumed three meals per day. Older age (P < 0·001), decreased food intake (P < 0·001) and consuming fewer meals (P < 0·001) were independently associated with lower MNA scores.
More than 60 % of the subjects had low MNA scores (<23·5) indicating that deficient protein–energy intake is common among rural elderly of south India and requires more attention.
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