The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 730–736 | Cite as

Nutritional status of the elderly in rural North China: A cross-sectional study

  • W. Zhang
  • Y. Li
  • T. D. Wang
  • H. -X. Meng
  • G. -W. Min
  • Y. -L. Fang
  • Xiao-Yuan Niu
  • L. -S. Ma
  • J. -H. Guo
  • J. Zhang
  • M. -Z. Sun
  • C. -X. Li



This study aimed to describe the nutritional status of elderly people living in a rural area of North China.


Community-based, cross-sectional prevalence survey.


3 rural towns of Lvliang City, Shanxi Province, China.


A sample of 1845 community residents (29.1% of those eligible) 55 years or older (birth before 1958-01-01).


The participants were assessed regarding demographic characteristics, height, weight, as well as having a physical examination and blood sampling for serum cholesterol, total homocysteine (tHcy), folate, and vitamin B12 levels.


991 (53.7%) were female and 139 (7.5%) did not complete the anthropometric measurement. Prevalence of underweight and obesity was 3.5% and 24.9% in men and 6.7% and 31.0% in women (P = 0.003, P = 0.005, respectively). Prevalence of hypercholesterolemia and hypocholesterolemia was 13.5% and 52.6% in men and 25.0% and 34.3% in women (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, respectively). Prevalence of high LDL-c concentrations was 8.8% in men and 16.8% in women (P < 0.001). The mean serum tHcy in men (28.8 ± 20.1 μmmol/l) was significantly higher than in women (21.0 ± 15.1 μmmol/L, P < 0.001). Prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia (defined as > 15μmmol/L) was 79.7% in men and 65.5% in women (P < 0.001). Prevalence of low folate (defined as < 11 nmol/L) and vitamin B12 levels (defiend as < 185 pmol/L) was 70.8 % and 76.8% in men and 56.5% and 72.6% in women (P < 0.001, P = 0.036, respectively). Correlation coefficients between tHcy, folate, and vitamin B12 indicated an inverse linear correlation (r = −0.21, P < 0.001, r = −0.35, P < 0.001, respectively).


As China’s economic climate has developed, the nutritional status of elderly people in the rural parts of the country has improved in some aspects. However, the trend toward obesity will lead to a shift in the burden of obesity-related chronic diseases. In addition, rurally-located elderly people are at high risk of death that may be associated with abnormal serum cholesterol. The data also suggest that severe deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 levels exist, as well as there being a high prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia. Folate and vitamin B12 supplementation are necessary to prevent related diseases.

Key words

Nutrition elderly people cross-sectional study China 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Zhang
    • 1
  • Y. Li
    • 1
  • T. D. Wang
    • 1
  • H. -X. Meng
    • 1
  • G. -W. Min
    • 1
  • Y. -L. Fang
    • 1
  • Xiao-Yuan Niu
    • 1
  • L. -S. Ma
    • 1
  • J. -H. Guo
    • 1
  • J. Zhang
    • 1
  • M. -Z. Sun
    • 1
  • C. -X. Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyFirst Hospital of Shanxi Medical UniversityTaiyuan CityPRC

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