Malnutrition in older persons: underestimated, underdiagnosed and undertreated

Maritha L Marais

Abstract


The right of older persons to enjoy optimal health and live in a dignified manner is protected in various international documents and national legislation.1-4 The South African government embraced this obligation by embedding these socio-economic human rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996).5 Cognisant of the poor socio-economic status of individuals from various vulnerable demographic groups, the South African government implemented a social protection system to improve access to food and provide for living expenses.6 It is possible that this grant system contributed to the reported decrease in food insecurity in the last decade,7 since social grants have been reported to contribute to 42% of the household income for poor families.8 Yet, single interventions such as cash transfers, on their own, are not adequate to ameliorate malnutrition amongst older persons and children.9

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S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268


The South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) is peer reviewed and an approved South African journal for the measurement of research output of public higher education institutions (Department of Education (DE) accredited).

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