Diet May Not Influence Health Outcomes in the Elderly

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  February 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM Health Watch
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The diet taken by the elderly may not impact their health outcomes, says a recent study.
 Diet May Not Influence Health Outcomes in the Elderly
Diet May Not Influence Health Outcomes in the Elderly

It has traditionally been thought that the elderly are frail, thin and weak. But present reports contradict these beliefs. Recently it was revealed that 30 percent of the elderly are overweight and by 2030, 30 percent of seniors are likely to be obese. If reports are to be believed, then there is a fair chance of probable link between survival and obesity status among the elderly!

It is generally known that the western diet contains a lot of fat and refined sugar, both of which contribute to conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

However, until now the effect of this form of diet has not been properly characterized for older people, and that is what this study attempts to do.

In the current study, almost the first of its kind, an attempt was made to evaluate the effect of nutritional status on the health of 20,000 older people living in Pennsylvania State out of which 449 individuals were followed up after five years. The average age of the subjects was 76.5 years at the start of study.

Assessment was carried out by calling the participants 4 to 5 times during a 10- month period to find out what their diet was during the past 24 hours.

The participants were categorized as belonging to any one of the three diet patterns -

a) "Sweets and dairy" pattern - The group included those deriving energy from milk, sweetened coffee and tea, baked goods, and dairy-based sweets and desserts. These individuals consumed the lowest amount of poultry.

b) "Health-conscious" pattern - This group consumed more of  food items such as  noodles, pasta, rice, whole fruit, poultry, fish, nuts, and vegetables. They ate very little fried vegetables or processed meats and their consumption of soft drinks too was very low.

c) "Western" pattern — Participants in this group took higher quantities of bread, fats, eggs, fried vegetables, soft drinks and alcohol. They consumed very little milk or whole fruits.

The patients' outpatient electronic medical records were used to monitor the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension or metabolic syndrome during the five-year follow up period.

No significant link was found between dietary pattern and the prevalence of any of these diseases. However, an increased risk for hypertension was observed in those with the "sweets and dairy" food pattern.

The study points to the fact that severe dietary restrictions do not make much sense since all the participants were already of an advanced age. However, it must be conceded that those who were strict with their diets had better health outcomes.

The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging. 

Source: Medindia

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