Malnutrition in geriatric patients: a neglected problem?

Authors


Sölve Elmståhl, Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden.

Abstract

The nutrient intake in geriatric long-stay patients and the mortality risk associated with low energy intake were studied in 61 patients, 43 women and 18 men, with a mean age of 87 years, at a geriatric long-stay care hospital during a 6-month follow-up. Dietary intake was assessed with a 9-day dietary record. Energy expenditure was calculated assuming a physical activity level of 1.33 × basal metabolic rate (BMR), predicted from equations given by FAO/WHO. Mean energy intakes were 1557 kcal in men and 1280 kcal in women; 84% of the patients had an intake below estimated energy expenditure and 30% were below estimated BMR. Only 5% received dietary supplement. Eleven out of the 61 patients died during the follow-up and the deceased had lower energy intake than the others (1185 kcal vs 1401 kcal, P<0.05). An energy intake below median (1378 kcal) was associated with an age adjusted increased 6-month mortality risk, odds ratio 12.5. A high proportion of geriatric long-stay patients report dietary intake far below present recommendations and are thereby at risk for having/developing malnutrition. Improved surveillance of geriatric long-stay patients'dietary habits seems justified.

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