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Nutrition and prevalence of undernutrition assessed by different diagnostic criteria in nursing homes for elderly people

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How to cite this article: López‐Contreras M.‐J., Torralba C., Zamora S. & Pérez‐Llamas F. (2012) Nutrition and prevalence of undernutrition assesed by different diagnostic criteria in nursing homes for elderly people. J Hum Nutr Diet. 25, 239–246

Background:  Undernutrition is the state produced by the intake of insufficient energy, macronutrients or micronutrients. The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of undernutrition using 10 different diagnostic criteria described in the literature and to assess its association with energy intake in an institutionalised elderly population.

Methods:  The cross‐sectional study included 213 subjects, aged 65–96 years (135 women and 78 men), who lived in seven nursing homes in the province of Murcia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Dietary intake and anthropometric and biochemical parameters were assessed, and 10 different diagnostic criteria, taken from studies of elderly subjects similar to our population, were applied.

Results:  The mean dietary intakes appeared to cover the recommended dietary intake for a Spanish elderly population. However, only 58.2% of the studied subjects consumed 100% of the recommended dietary intake and 15.5% of the subjects had an energy intake below 80% of the recommended dietary intake. Depending on the criteria used for the diagnosis, the proportion of patients with undernutrition varied between 2% and 57%. When the relationship between undernourishment, as defined by the different methods and intake deficiency, was assessed, a statistically significant relationship was only found for five of the 10 diagnostic criteria assessed.

Conclusions:  Research needs to focus on the development and evaluation of specific nutritional assessment tools for application to older people aiming to improve the detection of those suffering (or who are at risk of suffering) undernutrition.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Physiology, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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