• malnutrition;
  • undernutrition;
  • Mini Nutritional Assessment;
  • elderly;
  • nutritional screening

OBJECTIVES: To provide pooled data on the prevalence of malnutrition in elderly people as evaluated using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).

DESIGN: Retrospective pooled analysis of previously published datasets.

SETTING: Hospital, rehabilitation, nursing home, community.

PARTICIPANTS: Four thousand five hundred seven people (75.2% female) with a mean age of 82.3.

MEASUREMENTS: The prevalence of malnutrition in the combined database and in the four settings was examined.

RESULTS: Twenty-four data sets with information on full MNA classification from researchers from 12 countries were submitted. In the combined database, the prevalence of malnutrition was 22.8%, with considerable differences between the settings (rehabilitation, 50.5%; hospital, 38.7%; nursing home, 13.8%; community, 5.8%). In the combined database, the “at risk” group had a prevalence of 46.2%. Consequently, approximately two-thirds of study participants were at nutritional risk or malnourished.

CONCLUSION: The MNA has gained worldwide acceptance and shows a high prevalence of malnutrition in different settings, except for the community. Because of its specific geriatric focus, the MNA should be recommended as the basis for nutritional evaluation in older people.