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Knowledge, Attitude And Consumption Pattern Of Antioxidant (Fruits & Vegetables) Rich Foods By The Elderly In Njaba Local Government Area




This study determined the knowledge, attitude and consumption pattern of antioxidant (fruits & vegetables) rich foods by the elderly in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State. A cross-sectional descriptive study was employed using multistage sampling method to select 400 elderly from seven (7) communities in Njaba LGA in Imo State. Data was collected using structured interviewer-administered questionnaires. Questions on knowledge attitude and food consumption pattern were scored. The percentage of the score obtained out of the total obtainable population was used in grading the variables. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using Statistical Packages for Social Science (SPSS) V.20. from the results obtained, most of the respondents were between age 60-70 years (63.5%) and had at least primary school education (57.3%). 28.5% of respondents had a ‘good’ level of knowledge while 71.5% consumed ‘adequate’ amount of fruits and vegetables. Results showed that the respondents were happy taking fruits and vegetables at their age because they are good source of vitamins (28.5%) and aids in digestion (33.3%).Watermelon and pumpkin (ugu) were the most frequently consumed fruit and vegetable respectively. Respondents had more of fruity meals 3-4times weekly (66.8%) and 52.5%, consumed most vegetable foods 3-4times weekly. Knowledge levels of antioxidant foods were low when compared to their prevalence of adequate intake of fruits and vegetables especially among elderly who are of low socio-economic status in the area. Watermelon and pumpkin were the most frequently consumed fruit and vegetable. The study recommends amongst others that efforts to increase public awareness about fruits and vegetables should be targeted towards aged people of low socioeconomic status.



1.1       Background of the Study

Ageing in humans refers to a multi-dimensional process of physical, psychological and social change (Kunzmann et al., 2010). Ageing is an important part of all human societies reflecting then biological changes that occur but also reflecting cultural and societal convention. Roughly 100,000 people die each day to age related causes (Ponnappan and Pannappan, 2011). People do not become old or elderly at any specific age. Traditionally, age 65 has been designated as the beginning of old age. But the reason was based in history not biology (Acharaya, 2008). Many years ago, age 65 was chosen as the age for retirement in Germany, the first notion to establish a retirement age for most people in development societies, although this tradition is changing (Morley, 2010). The nature of the ageing process has been the subject of considerable speculation. Accumulating evidence now indicates that the sum of the deleterious free radial reactions going on continuously throughout the cells and tissues constitutes the ageing process or is a major contributor to it. (Kinght et al., 2010). In cities or town valve of cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight rise with age but in the rural areas such so not occur. Rather, there is usually anemia or scurry disease (Kinght et al., 2010). Although malnutrition has been largely eliminated from most sections of our population, it is occasionally found amongst the elderly.

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Malnutrition in elder population is mostly associated with complications and premature death (Hickson, 2006; Ahmed and Haboubi, 2010). The progression to malnutrition is often insidious and covert (Ahmed and Haboubi, 2010). Malnutrition plays vice-versa role (both cause and effects) of illness (Nutrition Supply for Adult, 2016). In addition, many factors appears to contribute the nutritional condition evidenced with aging (WHO, 2015; Evans, 2005). Physical or physiologic problems related to chewing, digestion and absorption of food, lack of appetite, smoking, alcohol consumption and excessive use of medication and also lifestyle, hormonal changes and diseases play a role in malnutrition (Evans, 2005). Poor nutritional status among elder people related to increased morbidity and mortality (Evans, 2005; Amarya et al., 2015). Also, nutritional status is related to the overall quality of life and health (Amarantos et al., 2011).  Assessing nutritional status in the elderly population is critical in determining health status (Amella, 2012). The mini nutritional assessment (MNA) is a practical, non-invasive technique for rapidly evaluating potential risk of malnutrition in the elderly (Bhandari, 2014; Shrestha, 2010). This instrument has received recognition as a suitable screening tool and has been validated to a limited degree in various samples of elderly persons from around the world (Amella, 2012).

Antioxidant food intake is an indicator of a healthy overall diet. “Specifically, total fruit (whole fruit and 100% fruit juice) and whole fruit intake are the second and third most correlated factors with an overall healthy eating pattern, respectively, after amount of empty calories consumed” (Hung et al, 2004). It has also been described as an appropriate diet for weight management and protection against overweight and obesity (Chernoff, 2001). They also play a role in reducing or even reversing the usual degenerative changes that occur with increasing age such as gradual reduction in cell numbers, graying of the hair and reduced respiratory capacity. The WHO estimates that 1.7 million (2.8%) deaths yearly around the world is accounted for due to inadequate intake of antioxidant foods. Globally, low fruits and vegetables consumption accounts for 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11% of ischemic heart disease deaths and about 9% of stroke deaths. Low fruit and vegetable consumption is responsible for 1.8% of the total global disease burden.

Antioxidant foods provide a diversified, flavored, colorful, tasty, low caloric, and protective, micronutrient rich diet (Beech & Myers, 1999). They also contain dietary fibres and prolong satiety (Volken, 2012). Consumption of fruits and vegetables, an important element of a healthy diet has been honed as a vital component of a healthy lifestyle which is important in the prevention of many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and cancers, if consumed daily and in sufficient amount (WHO, 2016). Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower the rates of oesophageal, gastric, colorectal and lung cancers with these outcome reducing the global disease burden of each by 20%, 19%, 2% and 12%. It also plays a role in the prevention of laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers (Pormeleau, Lock & Knia, 2012). There is a high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries and it has been attributed to the low knowledge of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables as well as their low consumption, despite their relative availability and cultural acceptance (Volken et al., 2012) as well as a predisposition towards energy-dense, sugarsweetened foods

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There is a consensus among researchers and the general public that eating foods rich in antioxidants leads to life-long health benefits. Improved population nutrition is one of the key factors underlying increased longevity in the past century (Chernoff, 2001). Fruits and vegetables are often identified as the most important part of a diet in preventing age-related disease. Throughout decades of nutritional guideline transitions from food groups to pyramids to plates, fruits and vegetables have maintained a prominent place in the daily nutritional guidelines set by departments and ministries of health worldwide (USDA, 2010). Because of the recognized health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, there are widespread policy and program initiatives to increase the availability and consumption of these foods, particularly among children. The older adult population, however, has unique nutritional needs and barriers (Lichtenstein, 2008).

Statement of the Problem

There is scarcity of evidences in the area of nutritional and health of elderly population in Nigeria. The changing demography trends in Nigeria explicitly demands evidences to address elderly health and nutritional issues. It is obvious that the identification of nutritional status and related factors allows interventions directed to the actual needs of the elderly population aimed at healthy ageing and quality of life for all. Older persons who are obese are also at risk of sarcopenix because fat often replace muscle mass, resulting in decreased functionality. Along with physiologic changes, the elderly may also experience profound psychological and environmental changes, such as loneliness, depression and inadequate finances. This affects dietary pattern and nutritional status. In this context, the present study aims to assess the knowledge, attitude and consumption pattern of antioxidant foods by elderly people.

Many developing nations, including Nigeria however lack sufficient and reliable data on antioxidant food consumption in their populations (WHO, 2016). In Nigeria, traditional diets rich in vegetables and micronutrients are being substituted with fast foods and pastries. With an increased westernization of lifestyles, several working-class adults may continually feel the urge for consumption of convenience foods often devoid of antioxidant foods. Owerri, being a commercial and cosmopolitan city, offers a wide variety of food choices, with several fast food and pastry outlets. The adult population, with the economic and social freedom to decide whatever they want to eat, suffer the effect of low consumption of antioxidant foods more in terms of non-communicable diseases. Meanwhile the few existing studies have focused more on knowledge and consumption of fruits and vegetables among secondary school students. Little is known about the knowledge, adequacy and consumption pattern among elderly in Njaba. This study therefore will determine the knowledge, attitudes and consumption pattern of antioxidant foods among elderly in Njaba, Imo State, Nigeria.

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1.3 General Aims and Objectives of the Study

1.3.1 General Aim of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the nutritional knowledge, attitudes and consumption pattern of antioxidant foods, consumed by the elderly.

1.3.2.   Specific objectives

The specific objectives of the study were to;

  1. Determine the nutritional knowledge of the elderly in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State
  2. Determine the socio-economic factors influencing food choices and habits of elderly in Njaba local government area of Imo State
  3. Determine the consumption patterns of foods among the elderly in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State.
  4. Determine the attitude of the elderly towards consuming antioxidant rich foods in Njaba local government area of Imo State.

1.5       Significance of the Study

The research will help to;

  1. Decrease rate of ill- health of retired people: it has been evidence that old ages comes with various diseases which becomes widespread as a result of poor nutrition and health status, therefore the knowledge of this work will enlighten individuals and the old people on the way to improve health status.
  2. This sectors emerges as the main or prime beneficiary of the research work, the government and private health workers like the Pediatrics doctors, will found this work useful on the ways to checkmate the health status of pensioners by government and private health wards.
  3. The academician includes researchers, students and educators that have the quest for knowledge. This study will add to their existing knowledge in caring for the old retirees.
  4. The findings of the study will also be an eye opener for all cooks both at home and in the campuses of the tertiary institutions to be conscious of types of food prepared for adults’ consumption.
  5. Nutritionists and health practitioners will use the result of this study to design nutrition education packages for retirees and would be retirees, on the importance of promoting optimal antioxidant nutrient intake, to ensure optimal nervous system development.

The research will bring to the notice of the government the areas that they could in and lend some assistance by way of public enlightenment campaign where they will talk about ways to provide good food habit that will enhance adequate nutritional status of adults especially those between ages (60-75 years).

Pages:  73

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF         

Chapters: 1-5                                 

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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