World Health Organization (WHO) defines people of age 65 and above as “old age”. Data shows a rapid growing trend of the older persons, especially in developing countries of which Ghana is not an exception, In-spite of this increasing trend, little has so far been documented on the nutritional status and associated factors of the aged in Ghana, which can contribute to formulating appropriate policies for this vulnerable group. To help address this, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 384 participants, of them were individuals 65 years or above at the West Gonja District, Ghana to assess their nutritional status and its associated factors. Respondents were selected from twenty-five (25) communities, and a structured questionnaire was used to elicit response on socio-demographic status, dietary habits and food choices, and morbidity. Anthropometric measurements, including height and weight were taken, from which BMIs were calculated. Nutrient analysis template was used extract specific total nutrient values per 100g whilst data entry and analysis was done using statistical package of social sciences (SPSS) version 23 with p < 0.05 considered as statistical significant. Pearson chi-square correlation and regression were used to establish the relationship between exposure and outcome variables. Among the 384 respondents, 161(41.9%) were males and 223(58.1%) were females. In total, malnutrition was (43.8%) among the respondents with Underweight (27.9%), 56.2% were of normal BMI while few (15.9%) were either obese or overweight. Majority of the respondent (79.9%) consumed three meals a day, 15.1% consumed two meals a day whilst 2.9% was once a day. A significant association (p = 0.001) was observed between meal frequency and nutritional status, with overweight/obese participants recording greater meal frequency compared with underweight/normal participants. Equally, a Chi square analysis showed a significant association between protein intake (p < 0.001), total fat intake (p < 0.012) and carbohydrate intake (p = 0.216) with BMI status. A significant association was also observed between weight loss and BMI (P = 0.002), morbidity (p = 0.012), having personal food preferences (p = 0.001) and being on diet (p = 0.002). Generally, micronutrient intake among the respondents was very poor with 48.4% of the respondents having low iron intake while none of the respondents meeting the RDAs for calcium. In conclusion, the findings shows greater proportion of the participants being malnourished, Significant association between meal frequencies and BMI status, macronutrient and BMI status, and lastly, BMI status, morbidity, food preferences, and being on diet with weight loss. Further study is recommended on how food quality is related to the nutritional status of the elderly.

This study was carried out in the West Gonja District in the Northern region, Ghana. The first chapter introduces the study, and also entails the problem statement, research objectives as well as the justifications. The second chapter is made up of the literature review, which gives information related to the research topic. The third chapter elaborates on the methodology deployed in the study comprising of the background of the study area, target population, target sample size, study design, the sampling techniques, data collection, data analysis, and ethical considerations. Chapter four involves analysis of data obtained and discussion of results. The fifth Chapter gives detailed implication of the study findings and its associations to other researches of its kind. Chapter Six concludes the study and goes on to give some recommendations based on the research findings.

1.1 Background
Ageing is the period that starts prior to birth and continues until the end of life. These are inevitable physiological and anatomical change that happens over the course of time. World Health Organization (WHO, 2010) therefore defines people of age 65 and above as “old age” or older persons. Accordingly, the progressive changes among older persons and their body functions are classified as follows; individuals between the age group of 65–74 are classified as “young old”, 75–84 age group as “old” and the group of age 85 and above is categorized as “oldest old” (Aksoydan et al., 2006).

It is believed that growth among individuals aged 65 years and above will rise from 524 million in 2010 to about 1.5 billion in 2050.Although studies have proved that developed countries have the highest older person‟s population in the world, yet still less developed countries have proven to have the fastest aging population profile with a significant proportion of their population being the aged. Between 2010 and 2050, the proportion of older persons in less developed countries is estimated to increase beyond 250 percent, compared with the 71% rise in the developed countries (World Population Prospect, 2010).

Data has shown a significant rise in aged population. In Ghana, the elderly population has increased from a total 213 thousand (4.5%) of the total national population to 1.6 million (6.7%) between 1960 and 2010 indicating rapid increment of more than seven folds of the total national population (GSS, 2010). However, one of the major challenges battling planners and policy makers is the absence of systematic reliable data on the needs of older Africans (Ramashala et al., 2002). Some data relatively exist for few countries, but the current lack of in depth reliable national-level data about the older populations presents a major limitation to understanding their nutritional wants and associated factors, making policy formulation and interventions difficulty in this aged group (Ramashala et al., 2002).

According to the National Institute on Aging, (2011) the remarkable improvements in life expectancy over the past century were part of the shift in the leading causes of diseases and death. Among developing countries today, a clear cast reflection on the changes of diet, life style and ageing is evidenced with the magical rise of chronic non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancers, diabetes among others in the human population.

Liu et al., (2000) indicated that dietary habits have contributed significantly to health-related disease especially among the aged group. It was observed that, atherosclerosis reduced by 30% among individuals who ate 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per/day compared with individuals who ate 2-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per/day. Aksoydan et al., (2006) also stated that, proper health promotion, disease prevention and management among the aged populace cannot be achieved without appropriate nutrition.

The basic diseases which afflict older men and women are usually same: cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, cancers, musculoskeletal problems, diabetes, mental illnesses, sensory impairments, incontinence, especially in poorer parts of the world with other infectious diseases which cannot be completely ruled out (WHO, 2002).

The above mentioned illnesses are the notable conditions that are said to accounts for bulk of mortality and morbidity among the old aged stem from early life style behaviours and experiences such as alcoholism, smoking, poor nutrition thus under and over nutrition, lack of physical activity, poor personal and environmental hygiene, violence, poor health care, injuries, and lack of or poor education, these and many same other experiences during early childhood age, adolescent and adult age are the main attributable factors to poor or ill health in later life (WHO, 2002).

By the year 2000, individuals 60 years and above in the world‟s population were estimated as 10%,which means that a total of 400 million older persons are expected to be living in developed countries whilst over 1.5 billion of same age group will be in the less developed countries. Clearly, the interests of the elderly, including their health concerns are poised to take on greater prominence in coming years (WHO, 2002).

Potentially, the sudden rises in the chronic non-communicable diseases in this age group has been foresight in long term to have a detrimental effect on the economic earns and societal cost in most African countries (WHO, 2002). A survey on older persons by World Health Organization (WHO) analysed in 23 low- and middle-income countries reveals a huge economic loss of about US$83 billion between 2006 and 2015 among three non-communicable diseases (heart disease, stroke, and diabetes) (UNWPP, 2010).

Coupled with this, United Nation, (2009) observed a total negligence of aged health care in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in spite of the increasing trend of their aged population (50 years and above) from 2005 to 2030. This in effect is seen among the regions in the world with the highest percentage (108%) thus about 76-157 million aged (Kimokoti et al., 2008). Relatively, this cannot be taught off without considering the economic and health impact of it.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 92 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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