Nutritional status among older people Risk factors and consequences of malnutrition
Abstract: Despite the high frequency and serious consequences of protein–energy malnutrition, prevention and treatment of malnutrition do not currently receive appropriate attention. Increased awareness of the importance of nutritional screening among older people is needed. The overall aim of this thesis was to extend our current knowledge about malnutrition and the consequences of a poor nutritional status in relation to preterm death, and to identify possible risk factors for developing malnutrition among older people. The aim of Paper I was to estimate the prevalence of malnutrition and to examine the associations between mealtime habits, meal provision, and malnutrition among older people admitted to a Swedish hospital. The aim of Paper II was to examine whether nutritional status, defined according to the three categories in the full Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) instrument, is an independent predictor of preterm death in older people.The baseline survey was a cross-sectional study of 1771 patients aged ³65 years who were admitted to hospital. Nutritional status was assessed using the MNA instrument, and possible risk factors associated with malnutrition were recorded during the hospital stay (Paper I). Overall survival was followed up after 35–50 months in a cohort study of 1767 participants (Paper II).Of the 1771 participants, 35.5% were well-nourished, 55.1% were at risk of malnutrition, and 9.4% were malnourished at baseline. An overnight fast >11 hours was associated with risk of malnutrition (odds ratio (OR) 1.46; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14–1.87) and being malnourished (OR 1.67; 95% CI 1.04–2.69). Fewer than four eating episodes a day was associated with both risk of malnutrition (OR 1.88, 95% CI 1.52–2.32) and being malnourished (OR 3.10; 95% CI 2.14–4.49). Not cooking independently was also associated with both risk of malnutrition (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.30–2.93) and being malnourished (OR 5.04; 95% CI 2.95–8.61). At the 50-month follow-up, the survival rates were 75.2% for well-nourished participants, 60.0% for those at risk of malnutrition, and 33.7% for malnourished participants. After adjusting for confounders, the hazard ratios (95% CI) for all-cause mortality were 1.56 (1.18–2.07) in the group at risk of malnutrition and 3.71 (2.28–6.04) in the malnourished group. Nutritional status defined according to the three categories in the full MNA independently predicted preterm death in people aged 65 years and older.This thesis provides additional knowledge of the current nutritional situation among older people admitted to hospital. The high prevalence and serious consequences of malnutrition demonstrated in this thesis underline the importance of screening and taking actions to counteract malnutrition among older people. The data showing that the length of overnight fasting and number of eating episodes per day are possible risk factors for malnutrition are consistent with the current nutritional recommendations. This knowledge may stimulate care providers to decrease the length of overnight fasting and increase the number of eating episodes per day among older people at risk of malnutrition.
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