Poor Iron Status Is More Prevalent in Hispanic Than in Non-Hispanic White Older Adults in Massachusetts1

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Iron status and dietary correlates of iron status have not been well described in Hispanic older adults of Caribbean origin. The aim of this study was to evaluate iron status and describe dietary components and correlates of iron status in Hispanic older adults and in a neighborhood-based comparison group of non-Hispanic white older adults. Six hundred four Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults (59-91 y of age) from the Massachusetts Hispanic Elders Study were included in the analysis. We examined physiological markers of iron status as well as dietary factors in relation to iron status. Dietary intake was assessed by FFQ. Our results revealed that Hispanics had significantly lower geometric mean serum ferritin (74.1 mg/L vs. 100 μg/L; P < 0.001), lower hemoglobin concentrations (137 ± 13 vs. 140 ± 12 g/L; P < 0.01), higher prevalence of anemia (11.5 vs. 7.3%; P < 0.05), and suboptimal hemoglobin concentrations (<125 g/L) for this age group (21.4 vs. 13.3%; P < 0.05). Iron deficiency anemia was higher (7.2% vs. 2.3%; P < 0.05) in Hispanic women. Hispanics had lower mean intakes of total iron, vitamin C, supplemental vitamin C, and total calcium than did non-Hispanic whites. After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, alcohol use, smoking, total energy intake, inflammation, diabetes, and liver disease, intake of heme iron from red meat was positively associated and dietary calcium was negatively associated with serum ferritin. This population of Hispanic older adults was significantly more likely than their non-Hispanic white neighbors to suffer from anemia and poor iron status, particularly among women. Cultural variation in dietary patterns may influence iron availability and body iron stores and contribute to an increased risk for iron deficiency anemia among some Hispanic older adults. J. Nutr. 137: 414-420, 2007.

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