OBJECTIVES: Low socioeconomic position (SEP) is related to many health-related conditions in older adults. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the association between SEP and malnutrition, a condition with serious consequences for older people in terms of quality of life and adverse health events. In the current study, we investigated socioeconomic inequalities in malnutrition and sub-domains of malnutrition in a sample of Spanish older adults.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional population-based study.
SETTING: Urban area of Albacete, Spain.
PARTICIPANTS: 836 participants over age 70 from the first measurement wave (2007-2009) of the Frailty and Dependence in Albacete (FRADEA) study, a population-based cohort study.
MEASUREMENTS: Educational level and occupational level were the indicators of SEP. Nutritional risk was measured with the Mini Nutrition Assessment® Short Form (MNA®-SF). Logistic regression analyses were performed.
RESULTS: For both socioeconomic indicators there was a statistically significant association with nutritional risk (OR low education=1.99, 95% CI=1.18-3.35; OR low occupational level=1.71, 95% CI=1.08-2.72). However, these associations disappeared after adjusting for age and sex (OR low education=1.51, 95% CI=0.88-2.60 ; OR low occupational level=1.32, 95% CI=0.80-2.17). In adjusted models, statistically significant associations between SEP and sub-domains of the MNA®-SF were observed, but these associations were not consistent across socioeconomic indicators.
CONCLUSIONS: This study found that malnutrition is a condition that can appear in any older adult, regardless of their socioeconomic group. These findings suggest that interventions to prevent malnutrition in older adults can be targeted at a general older population, and do not have to be SEP specific.