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Fat-rich foods set up long term risk for malnutrition, suggests study

By Nathan Gray, 29-Oct-2012

Related topics: Science & Nutrition

Consumption of fat laden foods can have huge implications for the risk of malnourishment in older age, according to new research.

The study - presented at the ESPEN Congress on Nutrition and Metabolism – examined the association between previous eating habits and current nutritional status in elderly people, finding that for every percentage of energy intake that came from dietary fat resulted in a 7% higher risk of being malnourished 10 years later.

Led by Lisa Loderstrom from Uppsala University in Sweden, the research team followed more than 700 people from mid-Sweden for an average of 10 years – revealing a relationship between levels of dietary fat intake and the later risk of malnourishment.

Study details

Loderstrom and her colleagues followed 732 men and women aged between 44 and 80 years old from 1997 to 2009. All participants were asked to provide information on dietary habits lifestyle information at the beginning of the study. This included information on potential risk factors form malnutrition such as: sex, age, BMI, tobacco use, and percentage energy intake from fats, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol.

The team followed the participants for an average of 10 years, before conducting a final nutritional assessment – using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).

The team reported that while the percent of energy gained from carbohydrate, protein or alcohol were not associated with the risk of malnourishment; smoking, BMI, and percentage of energy from fat were all significantly associated with the later risk of malnourishment.

After adjusting for the risk of smoking and BMI, the team revealed that for each additional percentage of energy from fat the risk of later malnourishment increases by 7%.