Submitted to: Sight and Life Newsletter
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2009
Publication Date: 12/30/2009
Citation: Dao, M.C., Meydani, S.N. 2009. Micronutrient status, immune response and infectious disease in elderly of less developed countries. Sight and Life Newsletter. 3:6-15. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The world’s population, especially in less developed countries, is expected to continue expanding. This growth is occurring together with a demographic transition due to increase in lifespan, and decrease in mortality and fertility. As a result, the number of people aged above 60 years in less developed countries is expected to increase from a current 8 percent to 20 percent in 2050, with the group above 80 years growing almost five fold. When using country median age as an indicator of ageing, the 2006 Revision of the U.N. World Population Prospects shows that the overall world population will age and that this shift will occur mainly in developing countries. But, even though lifespan has increased, quality of life has not improved for this age group, leading to unhealthy ageing and increased morbidity. As it has been eloquently expressed on the 1995 State of World Health, “For most of the people in the world today every step in life, from infancy to old age, is taken under the twin shadows of poverty and inequity, and under the double burden of suffering and disease. For many, the prospect of a longer life may seem more like a punishment than a prize.” A primordial objective is not only to increase lifespan but to achieve successful aging, which is defined as minimizing the time between the onset of illness and death.