Evaluation of nutrition risk in older independent living adults within the Waitemata and North Shore community : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Background: Research on the prevalence of nutrition risk in community living adults in
New Zealand is limited. With the rise in the proportion of older adults in New Zealand,
the assessment of nutrition status of older adults will help to determine those at
Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of nutrition risk amongst
independent living older adults residing in the Waitemata district health board (DHB)
region of New Zealand. The objectives of this study were to determine nutrition risk
using the Mini Nutritional Assessment – Short Form (MNA-SF) Tool and to identify any
demographic, social or health factors associated with nutrition risk among older
community living adults.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 57 older adults was undertaken. Nutrition risk was
assessed using a validated questionnaire, the MNA-SF. Dysphagia risk was
determined using the Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10) and cognitive function was
assessed using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Information on
demographic and social information, health status and use of support services was
also collected in one-off interviews.
Results: Ninety three percent (n=53) of participants had normal nutrition status (MNASF
score ≥12). Seven percent of participants (n=4) were found to be at-risk of
malnutrition (MNA-SF score ≤11; out of maximum score 14). The majority of
participants with normal nutrition status were New Zealand European (58%), living with
others (77%), were married (60%), were taking less than five medications (74%), had
lower numbers of co-morbidities (70%) and were dentate (42%). Compared to those
who were at risk, all participants were women (n=4), three were Maori and Pacific
ethnicity, three took ≥5 medications and three required support services or daily help.
No participants were found to be at-risk of dysphagia in the study.
Conclusion: This study found a low prevalence of nutrition risk in a sample of healthy
community-dwelling older adults. Our results contribute to the body of evidence that
nutrition screening is important to identify those at nutrition risk. Early identification of
nutrition risk can help to prevent nutritional problems in older adults and to help adults
to remain active and healthy within the community.