Nutrition knowledge, dietary patterns and anthropometric indices of older persons in four peri-urban communities in Ga West municipality, Ghana
Background: Older adults are vulnerable to malnutrition due to sociologic, physiologic and anatomical effects of ageing.
Objective: To investigate the influence of nutrition knowledge and dietary patterns on nutritional status of community-dwelling ambulatory older adults.
Methods: This cross-sectional survey involved 120 elderly aged 60-70 years purposively selected from four peri-urban communities in Ga West municipality, Ghana. Nutrition knowledge was assessed using a structured questionnaire and dietary intakes obtained using a standardized food frequency questionnaire. BMI from weight/height measurements was proxy for nutritional status. Data was analyzed descriptively in SPSS. Associations were tested using correlation analyses (-1<r<+1).
Results: 28% had adequate knowledge on geriatric nutrition. Dietary patterns were mostly fair (40%) or poor (53%). Bloating (25%), constipation (18%), appetite loss (12%) and chewing difficulties (11%) affected intakes. Underweight was 10% while 21.7% were overweight or obese (16.6%). Positive insignificant corrections existed between knowledge and nutritional status (r=0.261) and with diet quality (r=0.415). However, strong significant (p=0.027) positive correlation (r=0.699) existed between diet quality and nutritional status.
Conclusion: Nutrition knowledge was adequate but dietary intake was poor and a quarter were malnourished. The associations reaffirm that supporting the elderly to make healthy dietary choices and ensuring household food security is crucial to preventing malnutrition.
Keywords: Dietary knowledge, food diversity, body mass index, elderly, geriatric nutrition.