More than 1 in 4 older people who are underweight suffer from anaemia

[이데일리 이순용 기자] More than 1 in 4 underweight elderly people in Korea were found to have anemia. The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia was lower among the elderly with lower body weight.

According to the Korea Food Communication Forum on the 2nd, a team led by Professor Yunna Lee from Shingu University’s Department of Food and Nutrition surveyed 3,724 elderly people aged 65 or older (1,642 males, 2,082 females) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2016 to 2018. As a result of analyzing the number of disease cases and nutrient and calorie intake status, this was found. The results of this study (Comparison of nutrient intake level and health status by body mass index in the elderly in Korea: Focusing on the underweight elderly) were published in a recent issue of the Journal of the Korean Society of Community Nutrition.

Professor Lee’s team calculated the body mass index (BMI) based on the height and weight of the elderly, and based on this, under weight (less than 18.5), normal weight (more than 18.5, less than 23), over weight (more than 23 , less than 25), and obesity (25 or more) classified into four groups.

The underweight group accounted for 2.5% of all older adults. The proportion of the elderly belonging to the obese group was 38%, which is higher than the normal weight group (33.7%). The proportion of the overweight group was 33.7%. Older adults in the underweight group ate too little fat and too many carbohydrates. Carbohydrates accounted for more than 75% of the daily calorie intake, and fat accounted for less than 15%. For reference, the government recommends getting 55 to 65 percent of your total daily calories from carbohydrates, 7 to 20 percent from protein, and 15 to 30 percent from fat.

The intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, calcium and potassium in the elderly under weight was less than 80% of the recommended amount. In the thesis, Professor Lee’s team said, “If the elderly’s reliance on carbohydrates in their diet is too high, their protein intake can be relatively reduced, leading to a lack of intake of valuable nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, which are abundant in foods supplied with protein.” He pointed out that the intake was not sufficient, and if the intake of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C is low, it is easy to get various diseases.”

The prevalence of diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and low HDL cholesterol among the elderly underweight was significantly lower than other body types such as obesity. On the other hand, the prevalence of anemia was 27.6%, which was two to three times higher than the normal weight (17.5%), overweight (12.3%), and obese (10.9%) elderly.

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