Factors associated with undernutrition and overweight in elderly patients presenting at a primary care clinic in Nigeria
Background: Undernutrition and overweight are commonly overlooked health problems of the elderly, often due to the implicit assumption that undernutrition is a rare occurrence in old age and overweight is an invariable consequence of ageing. Method: A cross-sectional descriptive study of 500 patients aged 60 years and above who presented consecutively at the general outpatient department, University College Hospital, Ibadan, between September and October 2009, was undertaken. The main outcome measures were prevalence of nutritional problems (undernutrition and overweight), healthcare utilisation pattern and morbidities. The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) tool was used to assess undernutrition, while body mass index was used to assess body weight. Results: The prevalence of undernutrition and overweight was 7.8% and 54.1%, respectively. Previous hospital admission (p < 0.001) and chronic morbidities like hypertension (p < 0.001), osteoarthritis (p < 0.001) and psychosomatic disease (p < 0.001) were significantly associated with undernutrition, but not with overweight. Logistic regression analysis showed that previous hospital admission (OR = 2.105, 95% CI 1.479-2.996) and hypertension (OR = 0.122, 95% CI 0.048-0.306) were the most important factors contributing to the development of undernutrition. Conclusion: Nutritional problems were prevalent among the elderly in this setting. Co-morbidities in the elderly constitute risk factors to be addressed in order to reduce the occurrence of nutritional problems. Health workers should always assess the elderly for nutritional problems, together with other morbidities with which they may present, and institute appropriate management.
Keywords: elderly; primary care, Nigeria; overweight; undernutrition