Menu ENN Search

Methods for Assessing Malnutrition in Older People

A Summary of Initial Findings

In the first edition of Field Exchange we reported on an ongoing research project by Helpage and the LSHTM which was developing methods for assessing malnutrition in older people in developing countries. After five years of this study some of the results were presented at a symposium held at LSHTM at the end of September. The symposium advocated for greater attention to be paid by development and emergency organisations to the nutritional and related needs of older people.

The research concentrated on finding a simple but effective way of using anthropometric measurements to assess the nutritional status of older people. It examined the relationship between nutritional status and functional ability (the ability to perform basic activities of daily life without support). Vulnerability factors associated with risk of malnutrition in the elderly were also examined. The study took place in three sites, an urban slum in Bombay, a rural population in Malawi and a refugee population in Karagwe region of Tanzania. The elderly were defined as those over 50 years of age.

Nutritional status was measured using various indices like MUAC (mid upper arm circumference) and BMI (wt/ht2 )but substituting armspan (the distance between the tips of the middle fingers when both arms are held out) for height where there was curvature of the spine (kyphosis). One difficulty with using BMI to assess nutritional status of the elderly is that accurate height measurement is necessary, yet curvature of the spine confounds accurate measurement. In one of the study populations the percentage of the elderly with kyphosis was 17%.

The main findings of the study were as follows:

One of the main conclusions from the study is that prevention of malnutrition is critical in protecting functional ability of the elderly.

A handbook arising out of this study, to assist organisations or individuals wishing to measure nutritional status or assess vulnerability in the elderly is currently at draft stage. The first three chapters have largely been written. These explain methods of assessing nutritional status in the elderly, e.g. MUAC, BMI using armspan, height or demispan. BMI nutritional status charts using all these anthropometric measures are provided. Further chapters are to be written on ways of assessing vulnerability in the elderly and on appropriate interventions to deal with nutritional risk and problems in the elderly.

A report of the symposium can be obtained from Kate Gregory at Help Age International, 67-74 Saffron Hill, London EC1N 8QX. Tel No +44 171 404 7201, E-Mail helpage@dial.pipex.com

More like this

FEX: Assessing malnutrition in older people

During emergencies the elderly are often identified as a vulnerable group who appear susceptible to malnutrition and disease. At the moment there are no standards for assessing...

FEX: Nutritional status and handgrip strength in older refugees

Summary of research1 Handgrip strength measurement in the Chabilissa II camp, Tanzania 1995 A recent study set out to demonstrate the relationship between nutritional status...

FEX: Assessing nutritional status using armspan measurement

Summary of published paper1 In older people, the use of body mass index (BMI) to determine nutritional status is often unreliable. In particular, the accuracy of height...

FEX: Older people, nutrition and emergencies in Ethiopia

By Vanessa Tilstone Vanessa Tilstone has worked for HelpAge International in Ethiopia for the last 3 years as the Country Programme Director and has worked previously in...

en-net: W/h in rickets

is W/H criteria applicable to children with rickets?? I will do a "toy example" with only a few data points. Is is a "toy example" in the sense that I will use only 10 pairs...

en-net: Nutritional status and vulnerability of older adults/older people (aged 50 +)

Happy New Year to En-net colleagues, I have recently been contracted by HelpAge International (in partnership with NutritionWorks) to write a module on nutrition in older...

FEX: Nutritional Risk Factors in Older Refugees

Summary of published paper1 This woman is a widow and has nine people in her household to help provide for A study has recently been published on nutritional risk factors for...

FEX: The situation of older refugees and refugees with disabilities, injuries, and chronic diseases in the Syria crisis

By Lydia de Leeuw Lydia de Leeuw is the Regional Inclusion Programme Manager for both HelpAge International and Handicap International in the Syria crisis. She has extensive...

FEX: Anthropometric cut-off points for older children and adolescents in Syria

By Paluku Bahwere View this article as a pdf Paluku Bahwere is a paediatrician with over 25 years of experience in operational research and programming in the fields of...

FEX: Assessing the Nutritional Vulnerability of Older People in Developing Countries: a Symposium

Help Age International and the Human Nutrition Unit of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are holding a symposium on the 23rd and 24th of September 1997 which...

FEX: Improved surveillance prevents excess mortality: the Gode experience

Summary of published paper1 A study on the epidemiology of the famine in Gode district of Ethiopia has just been published. The primary objectives of the study (which was...

en-net: Assessing levels of maternal malnutrition

In Niger the 2006 MICS estimated 19.2% of women of reproductive age to be malnourished (with a BMI-18.5) and 1.9% severely malnourished (BMI-16). In Zinder the rate was 29.6%...

FEX: Postscript on older people, nutrition in emergencies in Ethiopia

Bradley A.Woodruff, MD MPH, Medical Epidemiologist International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention This field article from...

FEX: Assessment of adult malnutrition

Assessment of Adult Malnutrition was the subject of a special meeting held during the SCN's 28th session in Nairobi in April 20011. The aim of the meeting was to reach a...

en-net: malnutrition rate

Dear All, Urgently want to know in any nutritional survey what is the difference we can expect in the percentage of SAM children we will find using WFH criteria and with MUAC...

FEX: Targeted Food Distribution to Women and Children in Northern Afghanistan

By Regine Kopplow, Concern Worldwide Regine Kopplow is a senior nutrition advisor with Concern, working in Afghanistan since April 2002. Previous field experiences include...

en-net: Ebola and Anthropometry: Height measurement of adult patients

Ebola and Anthropometry: Height measurement of adult patients Dear colleagues I am in DRC working on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and nutritional care. I have an urgent...

FEX: Letter on older people, nutrition and emergencies, by Yvonne Grellety and Michael Golden (with response by Vanessa Tilstone)

Dear Editor, We refer to the Article by Vanessa Tilstone "Older people, Nutrition and emergencies in Ethiopia" (issue number 14, November 2001). We agree that the welfare of...

en-net: Malnutrition & Disability, indicator and age

We are planning a cross sectional survey (with nested case-control study with 2 controls: sibling+neighbour) looking at malnutrition & disability. I am wondering if there is...

FEX: Dietary Assessment of Camp Refugees

Summary of published research1 Mother breastfeeding twins in Mae La camp Approximately 140,000 refugees from Burma (Myanmar) live in ten camps along the Thailand-Burma...

Close

Reference this page

Methods for Assessing Malnutrition in Older People. Field Exchange 3, January 1998. p7. www.ennonline.net/fex/3/methods

(ENN_3287)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.