Dietary intake and nutritional status of urban community-dwelling men with paraplegia.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate nutritional status, dietary intake, nutrition knowledge, and depression of healthy urban men with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) and to compare these findings with national guidelines and data.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

SETTING: Urban university.

PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-five community-dwelling men with paraplegia (age range, 20-59 y).

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Dietary intake, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, knowledge of nutrition, and depression.

RESULTS: Diets included too much total and saturated fat, and inadequate fiber, calcium, fruit, and dairy intake. Most participants met protein needs, but most calorie levels were at or below recommendations. By using standard BMI and waist circumference cut-points for the able-bodied, approximately half of participants were overweight, 19% were obese, 7.5% were underweight, and more than one third had large waist circumferences. Participants with low knowledge of nutrition and high BMI who lived alone, smoked, and who had low family incomes were at significantly higher risk for lower quality diets. African Americans had the poorest diets.

CONCLUSIONS: Intake of several key nutrients did not meet guidelines, and many BMI and waist circumference values were outside recommended ranges. These data highlight the need for clinicians to screen, counsel, and treat people with SCI to prevent related chronic diseases.