What is Hospital Malnutrition?

Too Often Overlooked, Undetected, and Untreated
Disease-related malnutrition has been a concern for a long time. In 400 BC, Hippocrates noted that:”in all maladies, those who are well nourished do best. It is bad to be very thin and wasted.” Already then, the relationship between malnutrition and disease was apparent.

Clinical Definition of Disease-Related- / Hospital Malnutrition

Malnutrition can be defined as “a state of nutrition in which a deficiency, excess or imbalance of energy, protein, and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effects on tissue/body form (body shape, size, and composition) and function, and clinical outcome”.2 The term malnutrition includes both over-nutrition (overweight and obesity) as well as under-nutrition. However, in the context of the “United for clinical nutrition” initiative, the term refers to malnutrition caused by disease-related factors, such as malabsorption or increased nutrient demands. The International Consensus Guideline Committee, including members of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) and the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), categorized disease-related malnutrition for adults in the clinical setting as follows:3

Hospital Malnutrition: Overlooked, Undetected, and Untreated

Hospital malnutrition is not confined to underweight patients, it is also affecting normal weight, overweight and obese patients. It can impact all age groups, most commonly older people.4

Hospital malnutrition is frequently overlooked, undetected, and untreated. If left unaddressed, the consequences can be serious, leading to a marked decline in physical and psychological health and function.2


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