Demographic transition in Nepal, like in many developing countries, has resulted in a burgeoning elderly population whose health status is not currently monitored. One pillar of health is adequate nutrition. Yet, little is known about the nutritional health status of the elderly in Nepal. The financial, material, and personnel limitations in Nepal’s health delivery services necessitate health screening instruments that require minimal clinical staff and resources. To our knowledge, no such nutritional assessment tool has been validated in Nepal. Therefore, our aims are two-fold: To assess the nutritional status of the elderly population in one typical Nepali village, Okharpauwa, in Nuwakot District, Nepal; and concurrently, to validate the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) tool.
A cross-sectional field study was conducted with a sample of 242 elderly people in Okharpauwa, Nepal to obtain prevalence of malnutrition. Differences in demographic and lifestyle factors between these who were malnourished, those at risk of malnourishment, and those who had adequate nutritional status were analyzed. The MNA tool was evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis; sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy were calculated.
111 males and 131 females, with a mean age of 69.8±7.4 years, participated in this study. The mean BMI of the participants was 21.4±3.9 kg/m 2; the mean MNA score was 19.3±4.2. BMI was significantly correlated with the total MNA score (r = 0.58; p<0.001). The diagnostic accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of MNA were 81%, 86% and 67% respectively. Of the 242 elderly sampled, 24% were malnourished and 65% were at risk of malnutrition. Malnutrition was more prevalent among females (29%) than males (18%), and most prevalent among the marginalized Dalit ethnic group (40%). Elderly persons who were married and literate had better nutritional health than their counterparts.