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Nutritional status of Irish older people in receipt of meals-on-wheels and the nutritional content of meals provided

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Abstract Background: 

Research has suggested that meals-on-wheels recipients can be at risk for poor nutritional status. Despite this, few countries have statutory minimum requirements for the nutrient content of meals-on-wheels. This study examined both the nutritional status of a sample of Irish recipients and the nutrient content of a sample of meals provided to determine whether Irish recipients would benefit from statutory minimum nutritional standards. Methods: 

The study had two phases. First, a nutritional assessment was carried out to analyse the nutritional status of a sample of Irish meals-on-wheels recipients (Mini Nutritional Assessment and 24-h dietary recall with 63 self-selected respondents). Second, an assessment of the nutrient content of a sample of 46 meals from eight meals-on-wheels services was undertaken to characterise the nutritional content of the meals. Results: 

Over one-third of recipients (38.5%) were malnourished or at-risk of malnutrition and over half (52.3%) were overweight or obese. The mean (SD) energy [kJ (kcal)] content of the meals assessed was 3008 (498) kJ [719 (119.1) kcal], contributing 35–40% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for males aged 65 years and over and 42–45% of the RDA for females aged 65 years and over. In the meals assessed, the levels of vitamin C (25.3%), vitamin D (11.6%), folate (24.8%) and calcium (20.9%) were below one-third of the Irish RDA for these nutrients. Conclusions: 

Irish recipients may not be receiving adequate micronutrients from meals-on-wheels. Legislation that sets out minimum standards for the nutrient content of meals-on-wheels and greater variation in the portion sizes offered may benefit recipients.

Keywords: 24-h dietary recall; meals-on-wheels; nutritional assessments; older people

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland 2: School of Biological Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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