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Nutrition. 2005 Nov-Dec;21(11-12):1100-6.

Geographical inequalities in nutrient status and risk of malnutrition among English people aged 65 y and older.

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Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, UK.



Geographical inequalities in health continue to be a problem within developed countries. This study investigated whether there were north-south geographical inequalities among older people living in England with respect to risk of protein-energy malnutrition and status of nutrients, particularly those derived from fruit and vegetables.


A secondary analysis of data collected prospectively by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of people aged 65 y and older was undertaken to assess geographical prevalence of risk of protein-energy malnutrition (1155 subjects) and nutrient status (881 to 1046 subjects).


A north-south gradient was found in risk of protein-energy malnutrition (19.4%, 12.3%, and 11.2% in the northern, central, and southern regions, respectively; P = 0.013, P for trend = 0.002). This was accompanied by a north-south gradient in the status of vitamin C (30, 38, and 46 micromol/L in the respective regions, P < 0.001), which was associated with deficiency (<11 micromol/L) in a third of subjects in the northern region, a range of carotenoids (P = 0.023 to <0.001), vitamin D (P < 0.001), and selenium (P < 0.001). These inequalities were accompanied by gradients in indices of health status and socioeconomic status, which could account only partly for the "geographical" inequalities. Circulating vitamin C and carotenoid concentrations were related to the intake of fruit and vegetables.


This study suggests there is a north-south divide in the risk of protein-energy malnutrition and a range of nutrients, which have been implicated in the development of common chronic diseases.

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