Background: Falls are common in older people and may lead to functional decline, disability, and death. Many risk factors have been identified, but studies evaluating effects of nutritional status are limited. To determine whether nutritional status is a predictor of falls in older people living in the community, we analyzed data collected through the Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly in Taiwan (SHLSET). Methods: SHLSET include a series of interview surveys conducted by the government on a random sample of people living in community dwellings in the nation. We included participants who received nutritional status assessment using the Mini Nutritional Assessment Taiwan Version 2 (MNA-T2) in the 1999 survey when they were 53 years or older and followed up on the cumulative incidence of falls in the one-year period before the interview in the 2003 survey. Results: At the beginning of follow-up, the 4440 participants had a mean age of 69.5 (standard deviation = 9.1) years, and 467 participants were "not well-nourished," which was defined as having an MNA-T2 score of 23 or less. In the one-year study period, 659 participants reported having at least one fall. After adjusting for other risk factors, we found the associated odds ratio for falls was 1.73 (95% confidence interval, 1.23, 2.42) for "not well-nourished," 1.57 (1.30, 1.90) for female gender, 1.03 (1.02, 1.04) for one-year older, 1.55 (1.22, 1.98) for history of falls, 1.34 (1.05, 1.72) for hospital stay during the past 12 months, 1.66 (1.07, 2.58) for difficulties in activities of daily living, and 1.53 (1.23, 1.91) for difficulties in instrumental activities of daily living. Conclusion: Nutritional status is an independent predictor of falls in older people living in the community. Further studies are warranted to identify nutritional interventions that can help prevent falls in the elderly.
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