Nutritional status of older adults in a community in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala

Jacob Abraham, Navaneetha N., Felix Johns, Rajalakshmy Aiyappan, Mili M., Priyanka Shibu, Elsheba Mathew


Background: India is said to be shifting from an undernourished to over nourished population with advances in health, economy and medical care. But there is paucity of information regarding nutritional status of older adults in the country, who are socially and economically insecure. Hence the present study attempts to assess the nutritional status of people above 60 years of age, and to find the factors associated with it.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted among 129 people aged above 60 years, residing in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. Mini Nutritional Assessment tool (MNA) was used to classify the respondents as having ‘normal nutrition’ (score 23.5 and above), ‘at risk of malnutrition’ (17-23.5), ‘malnourished’ (<17). A 24-hour dietary recall was done to calculate per day calorie intake and compare with Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The results were interpreted as adequate or deficient. Descriptive statistics, chi-square and spearman’s correlation were done to find relationship between various sociodemographic variables, MNA status, BMI and calorie intake.

Results: Females constituted 75.2%; 81.4% were unemployed; 62% belonged to rural area. Nutritional assessment showed 41.9% to be having normal nutrition, 46.5% at risk of malnutrition, and 11.6% malnourished. Caloric intake was less than the RDA in 89.1%. There was no association between calorie intake per day and MNA status. Education (p=0.025), place of residence (p=0.021), marital status (p=0.003), and family income (p=0.031) were factors significantly influencing nutritional status in elderly. There was significant correlation between MNA status and BMI (p<0.001, r=0.329).

Conclusions: Malnutrition was seen in 11.6% of older adults in this study and another major proportion was at risk of malnutrition. Better nutritional status was significantly associated with good education, urban residence, married state, and higher family income. Dietary intake was inadequate among older adults. 24-hour dietary recall reflected nutritional status of only the malnourished.




BMI, Calorie intake, Mini nutritional assessment tool, Older adults

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