|Dwyer Johanna T, - TUFTS-HNRCA|
Submitted to: Nutrition Research Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 1994
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Not required.
Technical Abstract: Expectation of life at age 65 is improving in comparison to years past. However, longevity still varies considerably by ethnicity. Ethnicity is defined as characteristics that are peculiar to races or nations; thus, ethnicity consists of a combination of factors related to genes, culture, and social class. Differences between ethnic groups are due to all of these, but the latter two are the most important. The rele- vant fact about ethnicity from the standpoint of this review is that the nutritional problems of individuals in ethnic groups may be dif- ferent from or more severe than those of members of the mainstream culture. Social class and culture are heterogenous and vary greatly by ethnic group. These differences lead to heterogeneity in the social, behavioral, and environmental risks the elderly in minority groups are exposed to, and to differences in income and access to care. They are also associated with differences in food preferences, customs surrounding eating, beliefs about the associations of diet and disease, and many other factors. Since people over 65 are the fastest growing age group in the U.S. among whom minority groups are growing most rapidly, factors such as lower levels of formal education, poverty and/or lower incomes, levels of acculturation, and language barriers are more likely to affect the nutritional status of the elderly in minority groups. These variations by ethnicity, especially those in health status and income, are considerable, and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality rates among disadvantaged minority elders. Since many of the causes of these excess nutrition-related health problems are preventable, they deserve particular attention.