"The most widely consumed foods were tea, sorghum and maize meal, followed by milk and bread," she said. "Although up to 40 percent of the elderly drink milk, they mainly drink it in their tea. And Botswanan milk is ultrapasteurized, canned milk that may not be fortified with vitamins A and D."
The scientists also investigated dietary patterns, Chapman-Novakopfski said.
For example, persons living in urban areas had more access to fruits and vegetables than their rural counterparts. "And, in a pattern that also occurs in the West, single, widowed, and elderly females consumed less meat and fruit than elderly men and married people," she said.
Eating vegetables was more common if older persons had children in their homes, also a Western behavior, she said. "As a rule, people make an effort to prepare more nutritious meals if children are also eating them."
The elderly Batswana's frequent role as caretakers of their grandchildren makes it all the more necessary that government policy makers promote good health and nutrition among that group, said Chapman-Novakofski.
"Although, as a researcher, the amazing thing to me was that the people we interviewed were as old and as mobile as they were. Most had walked to the post office to get their pension," she said.
"Many live to be 80 or 90, yet they're obviously not eating the five fruits and vegetables a day that we recommend. They may not be in robust good health, yet they seem to be healthy enough, especially in a country that has severe infectious disease," she said.
"So there may be other factors that promote their longevity, which is an interesting area for further research," she said.
"Also, as Batswana begin to adopt Western consump
|Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign