TitleNutrition, Health, and Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa
AuthorsKimokoti R. W., Hamer D. H.
PublicationNutr Rev. 2008 Nov; 66(11):611-23.
AbstractThe proportion of the population that is > or = 60 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasing rapidly and is likely to constrain healthcare systems in the future. Nevertheless, the elderly are not a health policy priority for African countries. This paper reviews the nutritional and health status of older adults in SSA and their determinants. Literature was abstracted through the Medline, Google Scholar, and Dogpile databases using the following search terms: sub-Saharan Africa, older adults, nutrition, health. Findings showed that up to half (6-48%) of elderly Africans in SSA are underweight and almost a quarter (2.5-21%) are overweight, while 56% of older South Africans are obese. Low-quality diets contribute to poor nutritional status. Poverty, HIV/AIDS, and complex humanitarian emergencies are major determinants of undernutrition. Effective interventions need to consider socioeconomic, health, and demographic factors; social pensions may be the most cost-effective option for improving the health and nutritional status of the elderly in SSA.