Appetite linked to Death in Elderly People

Elderly people who report impaired appetite are more likely to die sooner compared to those who had good appetite, the findings of a new study suggests. The study, findings of which was published in the May issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, pointed that information on an elderly patient's eating habits may be important for health providers regarding risk for patient deterioration and mortality.

The study, conducted by Dr. Danit Shahar, a researcher with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition and Department of Epidemiology, demonstrated a link between the Daily Activity Energy Expenditure (an accurate measurement of total physical activity), appetite and mortality among well functioning community-dwelling adults.

During the study, the researchers analyzed DAEE and dietary factors, including self-reported appetite, enjoyment of eating and intake assessed by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and Healthy Eating Index (HEI) of 298 older participants (ages 70-82 years) in the Health ABC study. Participants who reported improved appetite were at lower risk for mortality. Similarly, participants who reported good appetite at baseline had a low risk for mortality.

"These findings are important because they show how subjective appetite measurement can predict death, even when adjusting for health and many other variables," said Dr. Danit Shahar.