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Keywords:

  • appetite;
  • food intake;
  • hospital;
  • malnutrition;
  • nutrition

Abstract

Aim:  Malnutrition is a significant issue for hospitals worldwide. This project examined malnutrition prevalence and associated factors including meal consumption in an Australian hospital.

Methods:  The cross-sectional study was undertaken at a private hospital in Brisbane, Australia, for ‘nutritionDay in Europe’ 2009. Nutritional status (subjective global assessment), demographic, medical condition and intake data were collected from 147 inpatients across five medical specialties.

Results:  The present study found 19.7% (29) of patients were malnourished (17.7% mild to moderately malnourished, 2% severely malnourished). Unintentional weight loss was reported by 39.5% of patients (58) and 49% of patients (72) reported eating less than normal. There were 41.5% of patients (61) who reported not having their usual appetite, with 46.3% (68) eating half or less of a hospital meal. The likelihood of being malnourished increased 4.0 times (CI 1.4–11.6, P= 0.01) for patients who ate less than normal during the previous week and 15 times (CI 4.2–53.5, P < 0.001) for those patients who reported eating less than one quarter to nearly nothing. The likelihood of being malnourished increased 2.9 (CI 1.1–7.6, P= 0.026) and 4.8 (CI 1.6–14.3, P= 0.005) times for patients consuming less than half of breakfast and dinner respectively. Binary logistic regression modelling found a malnutrition screening tool score of ≥2 and average meal consumption of 50% or less were predictors of malnutrition.

Conclusions:  The present study provides evidence of the increased likelihood of malnutrition in relation to decreased meal consumption and provides insights for future interventions in the acute care setting.