September 2, 2010

SINGAPORE: The elderly in Singapore are not eating right

SINGAPORE / TODAYOnline  /Singapore / September 2, 2010

Three in 10 elderly people at risk of malnutrition, survey shows

By Claire Huang Jingyi

The elderly in Singapore are not eating right - with a survey showing that three in 10 elderly people are at moderate-to-high risk of malnutrition.

The survey conducted on 421 relatively healthy elderly people aged 50 years and above found that the risk of malnutrition increases with age.

Only one per cent of the elderly respondents met the Health Promotion Board's diet recommendations, according to the survey conducted from February to March by Abbott, a global healthcare company .

Others did not take enough foods which contain calcium, carbohydrates and fibre.

The survey also shows that those who live in one and two-room HDB flats are at higher risk of malnutrition. That same predicament is faced by the elderly living in private apartments and condominiums.

Dr Chan Kin Wing, a Senior Consultant Geriatrician with the Gleneagles Medical Centre, said: "I think this is very significant - three in 10 is about 30 per cent. If we were to look in terms of absolute numbers, we are looking at almost 300,000 older people who are at risk."

Malnutrition makes the elderly more prone to falls and fractures, affecting their level of independence and adding to healthcare costs, Dr Chan said.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Enabled Living (CEL) has received $1.7 million in funding to help it build its capabilities and undertake more projects.

One initiative is the two-month "LivEnabled" campaign - to be launched on Monday - to help frail, elderly and people with special needs take better care of themselves.

"We hope to drive home the message that with the right support and access to health and social services, one can live an enabled life and with dignity," said Ms Lee Kwai Sem, CEL's chief executive.

Copyright ©2010 MediaCorp Press Ltd.