Date of Award

5-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Advisor

Richard A. Cook

Second Committee Member

Joan M. Atkinson

Third Committee Member

Phillip A. Pratt

Abstract

It is estimated that eight in ten elderly persons have a chronic disease. Management of these chronic conditions has been estimated to cost $300 billion every year-a third of the total cost of health care in the United States and 99 percent of Medicare dollars. Adequate nutrition plays a preventative role in delaying the development of many chronic diseases. Those unable to attain adequate nutrition are at increased risk of developing chronic disease. The focus of this project was to evaluate the effect on nutritional risk, if any, of continuing participation by seniors 60 years old in Older American's Act Title I11 meal programs (the Nutrition for Seniors Program) in the State of Maine by using the National Nutrition Screening Initiative's Determine Your Nutritional Health Checklist. Subject recruitment was achieved through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). Subjects completed the Determine Checklist either at a congregate meal site or at home if they received home delivered meals. Checklists were collected by the AAAs and sent to the University of Maine, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition for analysis. Subjects that participated in all three years of the study (2000-2002) were grouped into a Longitudinal Group and the remaining subjects, who had not participated in all three years of the study, were grouped into the Total Subject Group. The mishandling of identification numbers and the incompleteness of key data severely limited the amount of subjects available for data analysis. Data was analyzed by statistical software to determine the mean risk score, mean body mass index (BMI), and mean age of the sample. Change in risk score and BMI over the course of the study period was analyzed. Mean risk score was calculated for the Longitudinal Group in terms of meal delivery method. Frequencies of "yes" responses to Determine Checklist risk indicators were also calculated to highlight which risk factors may have been affected by the meal program. Significant differences in mean risk score between the Longitudinal Group and the Total Subject Group did not exist, except for year 2000. Mean risk scores were greater than four but less than six (out of a possible 2 I), leaving the mean risk level at "moderate risk." The mean BMIs calculated showed that the average participant is considered to be overweight. No significant differences in BMI were found between groups. There were significant differences in risk score, but not BMI, between congregate and home delivered participants. Significant increases in mean risk score over the three years were seen in the home delivered meals participants. The lack of change in risk scores within the Longitudinal Group may suggest that participation in the Nutrition for Seniors Program does not increase or decrease the level of nutntion risk as defined by the Determine Checklist. As nutrition risk is expected to increase as the elderly age, the lack of an increase in risk suggests that the Nutrition for Seniors Program may be effective in maintaining nutritional health.

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