Banwat ME, Daboer JC, Ganto DD, Awunor ET, Emmanuel BN
The elderly population in recent decades, especially in Africa and other developing countries, appears to be increasing. Physiological changes associated with aging may contribute to the aged having a lower energy intake. Other socio-cultural or economic factors may likely play a role as well. This study set out to assess the specific factors influencing the nutritional status of the aged living in an urban slum in Jos, Plateau state. This cross-sectional, community based, descriptive study was carried out on 220 apparently healthy elderly persons who were sampled using a two-staged sampling technique. Data was collected from them using interviewer administered questionnaires and analysed using Epi info version 3.4.5. Chi-square was used for test of relationships and a p-value of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Most of the respondents (80.4%) had poor nutritional knowledge and majority of them (64.5%) were not aware of any special nutritional needs of the aged. About 60% of the studied elderly had normal BMI while 25.9% were overweight. The aged females were more likely to be obese than their male counterparts (p=0.0032). There was however no statistically significant relationship between nutritional status of respondents and their age group (p=0.3784), graded nutritional knowledge (0.9968) and employment status (p=0.9883). Most of the elderly in the study area (Tudun Wada) have poor nutritional knowledge and practises, and as many as a quarter of them were overweight/obese. The study recommends that health programmes aimed at improving the diet of the elderly must take a multi-pronged approach.
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