To be aware of the influencing factors of healthy aging, several cross-sectional surveys have been carried out among the elderly living in Austria to identify health and lifestyle factors as well as socioeconomic influences that contribute to the nutritional situation.
Information about the health situation was collected by questionnaires. Diet was assessed by both qualitative food frequency questionnaires and 24-hour recalls. Additionally, nutritional status was examined in blood and urine samples using static and functional parameters.
The prevalence of overweight (21%, BMI >29) and obesity increased with increasing age up to 65 years; in people older than 65 years an inverse tendency could be observed; as from this age upwards a high prevalence of underweight was found (22%, BMI <24). The consumption of meat and meat products was too high compared to the recommendations. By contrast, the intake of high nutrient density foods was insufficient. On average, the fat intake was around 38% of total energy (%E); that of saturated fatty acids amounted to 20%E; the intake of carbohydrate and fiber was considered as being too low. The intake of folate, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, magnesium and vitamin C was assessed as inadequate.
More attention has to be paid to certain micronutrients in order to optimize dietary intake and to sustain health.