Mal J Nutr 21(3): 335 - 344, 2015

Association of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption with Mild Cognitive Impairment Among Older Persons Living in Low-Cost Residential Areas in Kuala Lumpur
Intan Hafizah I1, Zahara AM1*, Noramilin S2 & Suzana S1

ABSTRACT

Introduction: The benefits of sufficient fruits and vegetables consumption for health are well known. This study investigated the adequacy of fruit and vegetable intake among older persons and its association with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study also identified motivation and barrier factors affecting fruit and vegetables consumption.
Methods: A total of 114 respondents aged 60-years and above (25 and 89 respomdents with and without MCI, respectively) from low cost housing areas in Kuala Lumpur participated in the study. Participants were interviewed using a standardised questionnaire with neurocognitive testing scales to determine their cognition level.
Results: Of the non-MCI participants, 15.7% met World Health Organisation's (WHO) (2003) recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption of 400 g/ day compared to 12.0% of the subjects with MCI (p<0.05). Participants without MCI also had a significantly higher intake of fruit and vegetables (281.6 ± 77.2 g/ day) compared to those with MCI (250.4 ± 51.3 g/ day). Total daily intake of vegetables and fruits was significantly correlated with the digit span score of the participants (r=0.214, p<0.02). Total daily intake of leafy green vegetables was correlated with the verbal memory domain score of the total digit span (r=0.254, p<0.01). The main motivating factor for taking fruits, vegetables, and 'ulam' (salad) was their belief in its health benefits. The main barriers to their consumption were dental problems, and a dislike of their taste.
Conclusion: Generally, the intake of fruits and vegetables among older persons was inadequate and was associated with poorer cognitive functions. Improvement of oral health status and the provision of more choices of fruits and vegetables for older persons may increase their daily intake.

Keywords: Barriers, cognitive, fruits, motivation, older persons, vegetables

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