AIM: To evaluate the anthropometric measurements and dietary intake of the free-living elderly in a Chinese community.
METHOD: A survey was carried out on 48 male and female subjects aged 60 to 96 years using anthropometric, dietary intake and questionnaire techniques.
RESULTS: The study indicated female subjects to have more health problems, like pain at the joints (33%), hypertension (17%) and diabetes (27%) as compared to the male subjects. Dietary intake analysis showed the Chinese male subjects to have a higher energy intake (1,623 kcal) compared to the females (1,197 kcal) even though they did not fulfill the recommended dietary intake. The intake for energy, fats and carbohydrates, was found to be significantly different (p < 0.05) between both sexes. Anthropometric measurements indicated male elderly subjects to be significantly heavier (p < 0.05, 55.4 kg) and taller (161.8 cm) than female elderly subjects (49.5 kg; 146.2 cm respectively). About half of the elderly were normal in their BMI (male 55.6%; female 50%) and only 6.6% of the female subjects were obese. More male subjects were found to be underweight (33%) compared to female subjects (17%). Waist hip ratio was 0.92 for male and 0.87 for female.
CONCLUSION: Our study showed that female elderly subjects had more health problems compared to male elderly subjects. On the whole, the elderly did not fulfill the recommended amount for energy intake while the percentage for carbohydrates, fats and protein from the total calorie intake were not in accordance with the healthy diet guidelines. Anthropometrically, male subjects were heavier and taller than female subjects. Looking at body mass index, most of the male elderly subjects were in the normal to underweight range. With these results, more research is warranted to give a clearer picture of the Chinese elderly in the country.
Study site: Kampung Baru Tabuh Naning, Alor Gajah, Malacca
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.