Food and Behaviour Research

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Nutrition and geriatric psychiatry: a neglected field

Bhat RS, Chiu E, Jeste DV. (2005) Curr Opin Psychiatry. 18(6) 609-14 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Nutritional issues have received little attention in geriatric psychiatry research. This review focuses on literature published in 2003 and 2004 on nutritional factors in mental illness in the elderly and proposes directions for future research.

RECENT FINDINGS: There has been more research on the role of micronutrients in psychiatric disorders of older adults but studies examining nutritional state in this population are lacking. The former research suggests associations between low folic acid/vitamin B12 status and depression in older adults whereas evidence for other micronutrients is still tentative. In the latter work, there is only one study that examines malnutrition in psychogeriatric patients despite the availability of well-validated screening tools for assessing nutritional state in the elderly and the known impact of undernutrition in ageing and the development of frailty. The role of obesity in ageing is also relevant especially as more people with schizophrenia live longer, although the current evidence in the non-mentally ill elderly suggests that being overweight may have protective effects in the elderly.

SUMMARY: Malnutrition is likely to have considerable impact on the mental and physical state of the elderly.