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Socio-demographic, household food security and nutritional status of older (> 50 y) women from rural Zambian communities: A descriptive study

U. Mukherjee
J.M. Chalwe
S. Mbambara
W.H. Oldewage-Theron


Socio-demographic factors and household food insecurity are considered to influence the nutritional status of older women. The rapidly growing  elderly population in Africa is a concern particularly in sustaining their health and nutritional status. In spite of this, there is a scarcity of information  in older Zambian women and this study aimed to assess the socio-demographic factors, nutritional status and household food  insecurity status of older women in rural Zambian communities. This cross-sectional study was conducted in Twatasha compound of Kitwe and  Ndeke community of Ndola. The socio-demographic characteristics, anthropometric measurements, dietary intakes and household food security  were evaluated in a convenience sample of 153 older women (≥ 50 years) through the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). IBM SPSS  version 26 was used for descriptive (frequencies, means and standard deviations, and medians with interquartile frequencies) and inferential  (bivariate and Spearman correlations) statistical analyses. The socio-demographic characteristics showed that almost all (98.7%) of the participants  had other members of the family residing with them. Most participants (57%) had attained primary school education, 19% had secondary education  and 5% had college education. Almost half (49%) of the participants did not report their employment status and 36% reported to be unemployed.  Over-nutrition was most prevalent (37.3% overweight and 39.8% obese) while 20.9 % and 2.0% of the respondents were normal weight and  underweight respectively. The median (25th percentile; 75th percentile) dietary intakes showed inadequate intakes for most nutrients, except for  carbohydrates (170 g [133;225]). The total fat intake represented 14% of total energy intake. The majority (86.0%) of the participants were identified  as severely food insecure while only 6.0% were food secure. The majority of the participants (80-90%) used at least seven out of the nine behavioural  responses to food insecurity. The findings show resource-poor and severely food insecure communities. We recommended urgent  interventions to improve access to healthy foods (such as home gardening projects) and promote healthy dietary habits (including nutrition  education).