Nutritional risk assessment and obesity in rural older adults: A sex difference

Jenny H. Ledikwe, Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Diane C. Mitchell, Gordon L. Jensen, Janet M. Friedmann, Christopher D. Still

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background: Many older Americans are overweight or obese, but it is unclear whether obesity is associated with other nutritional risk indicators. Objective: This study investigated sex-associated differences in nutritional risk among community-dwelling, rural older adults and determined whether weight status [body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) and waist circumference] was related to other measures of nutritional risk. Design: This cross-sectional study explored relations between weight status and nutritional risk, which was determined on the basis of the Level II Screen, overall diet quality, nutrient intakes, and plasma biomarkers. Results: Of the 179 subjects, 44% were overweight (BMI 25-29.9) and 35% were obese (BMI > 30). There were few differences in nutrient intakes between older men and women after we controlled for energy intake. In women, BMI was directly associated with multiple additional nutritional risk indicators, including the number of Level II items (r = 0.30), intakes of fat (r = 0.26) and saturated fat (r = 0.21), and homocysteine concentration (r = 0.25). Weight status in women was inversely associated with intakes of carbohydrates (r = -0.25), fiber (r = -0.35), folate (r = -0.24), magnesium (r = -0.29), iron (r = -0.22), and zinc (r = -0.23); Healthy Eating Index scores (r = -0.22); and plasma pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (r = -0.30). Associations with waist circumference were similar. In men, weight status was associated only with plasma cobalamin (r = -0.33 for BMI) and pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (r = -0.24 for waist circumference). Conclusions: Overweight and obese older women, particularly those living alone, may be at greater nutritional risk than are men with a high BMI. Targeted nutritional intervention emphasizing nutrient-dense food choices to improve dietary patterns may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-558
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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