Assessment of Nutritional Status of the Aged in the West Gonja District In Northern Region of Ghana

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June, 2018
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World Health Organization (WHO) defines people of age 65 and above as “old age”. Data shows a rapid growing trend of the older persons, especially in developing countries of which Ghana is not an exception, In-spite of this increasing trend, little has so far been documented on the nutritional status and associated factors of the aged in Ghana, which can contribute to formulating appropriate policies for this vulnerable group. To help address this, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 384 participants, of them were individuals 65 years or above at the West Gonja District, Ghana to assess their nutritional status and its associated factors. Respondents were selected from twenty-five (25) communities, and a structured questionnaire was used to elicit response on socio-demographic status, dietary habits and food choices, and morbidity. Anthropometric measurements, including height and weight were taken, from which BMIs were calculated. Nutrient analysis template was used extract specific total nutrient values per 100g whilst data entry and analysis was done using statistical package of social sciences (SPSS) version 23 with p< 0.05 considered as statistical significant. Pearson chi-square correlation and regression were used to establish the relationship between exposure and outcome variables. Among the 384 respondents, 161(41.9%) were males and 223(58.1%) were females. In total, malnutrition was (43.8%) among the respondents with Underweight (27.9%), 56.2% were of normal BMI while few (15.9%) were either obese or overweight. Majority of the respondent (79.9%) consumed three meals a day, 15.1% consumed two meals a day whilst 2.9% was once a day. A significant association (p=0.001) was observed between meal frequency and nutritional status, with overweight/obese participants recording greater meal frequency compared with underweight/normal participants. Equally, a Chi square analysis showed a significant association between protein intake (p<0.001), total fat intake (p<0.012) and carbohydrate intake (p=0.216) with BMI status. A significant association was also observed between weight loss and BMI (P=0.002), morbidity (p=0.012), having personal food preferences (p=0.001) and being on diet (p=0.002). Generally, micronutrient intake among the respondents was very poor with 48.4% of the respondents having low iron intake while none of the respondents meeting the RDAs for calcium. In conclusion, the findings shows greater proportion of the participants being malnourished, Significant association between meal frequencies and BMI status, macronutrient and BMI status, and lastly, BMI status, morbidity, food preferences, and being on diet with weight loss. Further study is recommended on how food quality is related to the nutritional status of the elderly.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Human Nutrition and Dietetics.