The nutritional effects of the Elderly Nutrition Program: Title III-C for the Menomonie congregate-site meal program participants
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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The Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) has been providing meals to American elderly since 1973. One aim of the program is to foster and maintain the participants’ nutritional health. The congregate-setting of the elderly nutrition program is an important aspect of the nutritional services providing an opportunity for the participants to socialize and receive nutritious meals. A limited number of studies (Neyman, et al 1998; LeClere and Thornbury 1983; Kohrs, O’Hanlon, and Eklund 1978) have shown that the nutrition meal program participants have higher nutrient intakes than the non-participants. The purpose of our study was to determine whether the nutritional intake of the meal participants was improved by the contribution of the nutrition meal program. Seventeen Menomonie congregate-site meal program participants voluntarily enrolled in this study. The nutrient intakes of the participants from the meal participation day and the non-participation day were obtained by using 24-hour dietary recalls during two interviews. In addition, the food frequency questionnaire was administered verbally during one interview to obtain each subject’s overall dietary intake. Interview questions were also administered verbally to investigate factors influencing the elder’s food consumption. During both interview sessions, food models, measuring cups and spoons were used to help subjects identify food portion size. The nutrient composition of the 24-hour recalls and food frequency questionnaires were analyzed by Food Processor Plus. Pair-samples t tests were used to compare the nutrient intakes and percentages of the RDA for the elderly participants on the meal participation day to the non-participation day; on the participation day to the food frequency questionnaire; and on the non-participation day to the food frequency questionnaire. One-way ANOVA was also used to test the effects of both gender and age differences on nutrient intakes and percentages of the RDA on the meal participation day, on the non-participation day, and on the food frequency questionnaire. The results showed that the percentage of the RDA and the mean intakes of energy and some macronutrients including protein, carbohydrate, total fat, and saturated fatty acid were significantly higher on the meal participation day than the non-participation day. The mean dietary fiber intake was significantly higher on the meal participation day compared to the non-participation day. However, there was only a tendency of significance when dietary fiber intake was expressed as a percentage of the recommended. The mean intakes of thiamin, vitamin B-6 and niacin were significantly greater on the meal participation day; similar results were found when these vitamins were expressed as a percentage of the RDA. In addition, the percentage of the RDA and the mean intakes of all minerals, except zinc, were significantly higher on the participation day compared to the non-participation day. The male participants appeared to benefit more so than the females because of the contribution of the meal program to their overall energy and nutrient intakes especially, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-12, phosphorus, and potassium. Age did not appear to affect nutrient intakes on either the participation or non-participation days. Although many benefits of the meal program were documented, it should be noted that the mean intake of vitamin D, folate, calcium, and zinc of the elderly participants on the meal program participation day was found to be substantially below the RDA and DRI. The lower intakes of these nutrients illustrate the reliance of participants on the meal program for their total daily nutritional intake. Therefore, nutrition education to foster consumption of additional nutrient dense food at home could improve their nutritional status. Our results conclude that the Dunn County Elderly Nutrition Program is enhancing the nutritional intakes of the participants.