Nutritional status of older adults in Ireland

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Kehoe, Laura
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University College Cork
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Population ageing is rapidly progressing and it is estimated that by 2050, one in every five people globally will be aged 60 years or over. Adequate nutritional status can play a key role in preventing or delaying the progression of age related diseases. The aim of this thesis was to estimate usual macro- and micro-nutrient intakes, to determine the key sources, compliance with recommendations and to investigate the nutritional status of older Irish adults (≥65 years). This thesis also aimed to examine the impact of fortified foods and nutritional supplements on micronutrient intakes, prevalence of inadequate intakes and nutritional status of older adults. The analysis for this research was based on data from the subset of older adults aged ≥65 years (n 226) in the Irish National Adult Nutrition Survey (NANS) (2008-2010). Food and beverage intakes were estimated using a 4-day semi-weighed food record. Sixty-four per cent of older adults provided a blood sample (of which 79% were fasting) and 67% of older adults provided a morning first void urine sample for the analysis of nutritional biomarkers. Nutrient intakes were estimated using WISP® which estimates nutrient intake using data from ‘McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods’, Sixth Edition (plus all nine supplemental volumes). Usual intakes of macro- and micro- nutrients were calculated using the NCI-method implemented in SAS® macros. The prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes (%<estimated average requirement (EAR)) was examined excluding under-reporters for energy intake (28%) and the risk of excessive intakes (%> upper levels (UL)) was also calculated. The distribution of nutrient status was examined using SPSS® and the prevalence of deficiency was examined using published cut-off ranges. In summary, this study has highlighted unfavourable intakes of total and saturated fat, sugar, salt and dietary fibre together with low intakes and/or suboptimal status of key micronutrients such as vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, folate, calcium and magnesium in older Irish adults. Furthermore, the consumption of fortified foods and use of nutritional supplements make significant contributions to intakes and status of these micronutrients. Future strategies to address the nutritional issues identified in older adults could include the promotion of healthy food choices together with improvements of the food supply including reformulation (fat, sugar and salt), food fortification or supplementation to support successful ageing of our population. The data presented in this study will serve to inform policy makers in the development and implementation of updated dietary recommendations for older adults in Ireland. Furthermore, information about the relative contributions of specific foods to micronutrient intakes will be useful to both policy makers and the food industry to develop targeted dietary strategies to improve the diets of older Irish adults.
Older adults , Nutritional status , Nutrient intakes
Kehoe, L. 2018. Nutritional status of older adults in Ireland. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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