Author(s): Pieterse S, Manandhar M, Ismail S
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To assess the nutritional status of older people in an unstable situation. DESIGN: Anthropometric and socioeconomic data were collected cross-sectionally. Body mass index (BMI), arm muscle area (AMA) and arm fat area (AFA) were calculated to evaluate nutritional status. For 41 subjects with kyphosis, height was estimated from arm span using sex-specific regression equations from the non-kyphotic group. SETTING: The study was carried out in the post-emergency phase in a Rwandan refugee camp in Karagwe district, north-west Tanzania. SUBJECTS: Measurements were obtained from 413 men and 415 women aged 50-92 years. RESULTS: The prevalence of undernutrition (BMI < 18. 5) was 19.5\% in men and 13.1\% in women and was higher above age 60 years in both sexes: in men the prevalences were 23.2\% and 15.0\% (P < 0.05) and in women 15.1\% and 10.9\% for the older and younger age groups respectively. AMA, which is important in relation to the ability to remain active and independent, was also significantly lower in older age groups. No difference was found in AFA. The proportion with low BMI was much higher in the group with kyphosis. CONCLUSIONS: Even in this population of older Rwandans who managed to reach the camp and survive in exile for more than a year, undernutrition does occur and is more prevalent at an advanced age. The higher prevalence of undernutrition in kyphotic people illustrates the importance of including this group in nutritional status assessments.
This article was published in Public Health Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research