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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(2):285-9.

Prevalence of malnutrition in free living elderly people in Iran: a cross-sectional study.

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Dargaz Health Center, Mashhad University of Medical Science, Mashhad, Iran.



The elderly are a particularly vulnerable group. Malnutrition is common and increases an old person's vulnerability to disease. We determine the prevalence of malnutrition in free living elderly people and its relationship with nutritional status and some socioeconomic conditions.


Nutritional status and its relationship with socioeconomic conditions were evaluated using Mini Nutritional Assessment in free-living elderly people (n=1962 using cluster sampling, 917 male/1045 female, aged>60).


Among the population, 42.7% were well nourished, 12.0% malnourished and 45.3% at risk of malnutrition. There was more malnutrition in females compared to males (13% vs. 10.8%; p<0.001), rural than urban (14.8% vs. 9.9%; p<0.001), non educated than educated (13.3% vs 6.9%; p<0.001), lonely than living with family (17.5% vs. 10.3%; p<0.001), unemployed than employed (13.3% vs. 6.3%; p<0.05), elderly on income support (Behsisty charity) compared with elderly on retirement salary, (41.7% vs. 3.3%; p<0.05). Total Mini Nutritional Assessment scores correlated significantly with length of education, age, waist circumference, and body mass index (r =0.426, -0.142, 0.355 and 0.269 respectively).


This study revealed a 12% malnutrition prevalence in this elderly group, with higher percentages in special socioeconomic conditions. Health care providers need to be aware of this problem and its scope. These results reinforce the need to screen, monitor and support elderly people.

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