Constipation in the population over 50 years of age in Albacete province

Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2006 Jun;98(6):449-59. doi: 10.4321/s1130-01082006000600006.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Objective: To Determine the incidence of constipation in Albacete province and its relation with diet and lifestyle.

Patients and methods: Cross-sectional population survey. We studied 414 participants over 50 years of age in Albacete province. 445 persons over 50 years of age were included in the study. All participants were selected by systematic random sampling; 414 participants filled in the questionnaire correctly.

Main measures: age, weight and height, marital status, level of education and occupation; presence of a disease, number of sleep hours a day, physical exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, drug intake (anti-inflammatories and laxatives); bowel habit, diet, meal frequency and place; food intake frequency per week, daily intake of water, coffee, tea and herbal beverages; vitamin and fiber supplements; presence of cancer in the family.

Results: 56.9% of participants were women. Mean age 67.07 years. In Albacete province, 4.4% of the population over 50 years have a bowel habit consistent with constipation. Most participants had three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and supper), while 50% had another meal in the morning or afternoon. These meals took place, habitually, in the domicile. There was a preponderance in daily intake of the following foods: milk (83.7%), bread (95.1%), vegetables (68.8%), fruit (91.8%), and virgin olive oil (96.6%). Fish was eaten every one to two days, and pulses and meat every three to six days. 44.4% of participants drank one to two liters of water a day. Only 3.9% of participants took some supplement; 35% of participants were on a diet. It was observed that 97.7% of participants with more than three defecations a week had a high intake of virgin olive oil; 65.7% of participants did some physical exercise customarily; 70.2% of participants were non-smokers, 10.2% were smokers, and 18.4% were ex-smokers. With regard to alcohol, the percentage of drinkers was 35.1%. The main class of medications taken by participants was NSAIDs - 14.5%; 79.7% took neither NSAIDs nor laxatives. Only 2.7% of participants took laxatives regularly.

Conclusions: Most participants had relatively healthy eating habits.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology