We are familiar with the tragedy of infants dying from malnutrition in the developing world. Matthew Lee and Emily Berthelot want to break the news that a similar problem exists in the United States, among older adults.
According to Lee, professor of sociology and Provost Fellow in the Office of Research and Economic Development, and Berthelot, a doctoral candidate in sociology, the problem is two-fold. They say living in social isolation and socioeconomic and physical disadvantages are to blame.
Older adults with low levels of education are most likely to live in poverty, to be disabled, and to live alone. These older adults are also most likely to die from malnutrition. The logic is clear. Living in poverty obviously has an effect on nutrition or the lack of it. And living in social isolation makes them less likely to receive outside help and support.
"The fact that 2,000 to 3,000 people a year die due to malnutrition-related causes in the U.S. beckons the need for additional research on this important threat to public health," said Lee. "Our study, being the first of its kind, will hopefully prompt other researchers to begin examining this problem more closely."