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In stating the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations aims to halve malnutrition around the world by 2015. Nutritional status of the elderly population in low-income countries is seldom focused upon. The present study aimed to evaluate the magnitude of malnutrition among an elderly population in rural Bangladesh.
Design and setting
Data collection for a multidimensional cross-sectional study of community-based elderly people aged 60 years and over was conducted in a rural area in Bangladesh.
Of 850 randomly selected elderly individuals, 625 participated in home interviews. Complete nutritional information was available for 457 individuals (mean age 69 ± 8 years, 55% female). Nutritional status was assessed using an adapted form of the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) including body mass index (BMI). Age, sex, education, household expenditure on food and self-reported health problems were investigated as potential predictors of nutritional status.
BMI < 18.5 kg m− 2, indicating chronic energy deficiency, was found in 50% of the population. MNA revealed a prevalence of 26% for protein–energy malnutrition and 62% for risk of malnutrition. Health problems rather than age had a negative impact on nutritional status. Level of education and food expenditure were directly associated with nutritional status.
In order to reduce world hunger by half in the coming decade, it is important to recognise that a substantial proportion of the elderly population, particularly in low-income countries, is undernourished.
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