National / Science & Health

Japan’s shut-in elderly men more likely to suffer from undernourishment

Jiji

Elderly men who go out less than once a week are more likely to suffer from undernourishment than those who leave their house more often, a 2017 health ministry survey revealed Tuesday.

There was little difference in the nutritional status for elderly women, regardless of how often they go out.

“Elderly women tend to be more active while staying at home, doing their household chores,” the ministry said. “Men who don’t go out often tend to be physically inactive and don’t use up a lot of energy. They may be eating less as a result,” it added.

The share of elderly men who said they go out once a week or more stood at 94.8 percent for the 65-74 age bracket and 92.6 percent for those 75 or older.

For women, the share came to 97.2 percent and 87.5 percent, respectively.

Of people aged 65 or older, those who are undernourished — defined by the survey as people with a body mass index of 20 or lower — totaled 12.5 percent for men and 19.6 percent for women, the survey said.

Of the undernourished portion, men who said they leave their home at least once a week accounted for 11.5 percent and those who said they go out less came to 28.6 percent.

There was little difference for women, standing at 19.5 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively.

The annual health survey studied the daily lives and the muscle volume of the elderly for the first time. Among men and women aged 60 or older, the muscle volume in the four extremities is more likely to be larger for those who take more protein and spend more time doing physical work.

“It’s important (for the elderly) to pay attention to both diet and exercise in their daily lives,” the ministry said.

The survey was conducted in November last year and covered 5,149 randomly selected households nationwide, of which 3,076 households answered.