One third of Spanish elderly at risk of malnutrition

Almost one third of Spain’s elderly either suffers (4.3%) from malnutrition or is at high risk of it (25.4%).

That’s the astonishing outcome of a research conducted by researchers from the University of Navarra and the General Council of Pharmaceuticals. The study’s goal was to evaluate the malnutrition rates among 65 years of age and older, and its distribution across population and territory according to age, gender and place of residence. The results confirmed the high incidence across Spain and, what is more, taht the highest rates are found among elderly women that live in the south and northwest of Spain.

The study, recently published by the magazine Public Health Nutrition, adopted, for the first time, an all-population approach, integrating datas from the entire Spanish population above 65. Previously, reports on malnutrition were done with individuals in the hospital or in geriatric residences.

The assessment of the nutritional study, supported by 3,251 pharmaceuticals, analyzed a selection of 22,007 individuals residing in Spain. ¨The results show that 4.3% of the elderly population suffers from malnutrition, while 25.4% is at risk of suffering from it¨, explains Marta Cuervo to SINC, main author of the study and researcher at the Institute of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Navarra.

The assessment the report was based on included questions concerning nutritional status: anthropometric parameters, dietetic questions, global evaluation of the nutritional state and self perception of the surveyed individuals, both their state of health and their nutritional level. Investigators found greater vulnerability to this disorder in women.

“The lowest level of malnutrition was found in the metropolitan area of Madrid and in the north of Spain, except the areas of Galicia and Asturias, where elevated levels of malnutrition were found. What is more, Madrid and Barcelona, the large Spanish urban centers, have lower levels of malnutrition among elderly individuals,¨ points out the researcher.

¨This study can serve as a base for every autonomous community to use data and develop nutritional education campaigns.¨, concludes the researcher.

¨The assessment scale is focused on the evaluation of lack of nutrition, and in no case in malnutrition¨, points out the researcher to SINC. ¨Malnutrition is bad nutrition, both due to excess and due to lack thereof (such as obesity), while lack of nutrition is only due to lack thereof (anemia)¨.

However, based on the gathered data, researchers also analyzed the state of obesity and overweight in elderly individuals. ¨We obtained obesity figures that exceeded even adult stage figures¨, adds Cuervo. As such, 30.2% of the population over 65 years of age is obese (33% of women, compared to 25.5% of men).


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