News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


High risk of malnutrition in older people

High risk of malnutrition in older people

Almost 75 per cent of older adults involved in a recent Massey University study were at risk of malnourishment, or were malnourished, when they were admitted to hospital.

The study, led by Associate Professor Carol Wham from the College of Health, aimed to investigate malnutrition risk in older adults at the point of hospital admission. It follows an earlier pilot study which showed 23 per cent of respondents were malnourished and 35 per cent were at high risk of malnourishment at hospital admission. The average age of the 234 participants involved in the latest study was 84. The research was undertaken in Auckland within the Waitemata District Health Board region, between July 2014 and September 2015.

“Malnutrition is preceded by a state of malnutrition risk and is associated with poor health outcomes. In many cases it can be prevented or the trajectory slowed by identifying and addressing risk factors,” Dr Wham says.

The study used a validated screening tool, the Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA®-SF), which provides a simple and rapid method to identify those at high risk, by assessing appetite, weight loss, mobility, psychological stress or acute disease, depression and body mass index

“Nearly half [46.6 per cent] were identified at malnutrition risk and just over a quarter [26.9 per cent] malnourished. This means, almost three-quarters were malnourished or at malnutrition risk,” Dr Wham says.

Significant predictors of malnutrition risk at hospital admission were dysphagia risk (problems with swallowing), low body mass index (BMI), low muscle strength and poor cognition. Some level of cognitive impairment was indicated in 62 per cent of the participants

Dr Wham says two-thirds of the participants required daily help with various tasks such as cooking, cleaning, showering and dressing. “This may suggest loss of physical function among the participants and may relate to the low muscle strength observed. Eighty-eight per cent of participants were admitted from the community, so their own homes rather than rest homes or care facilities. This suggests the high prevalence of hospital malnutrition may be a result of unrecognised community malnutrition.”

If we are to address malnourishment that is occurring in the community before an older adult reaches crisis point and hospitalisation, screening in GP medical centres is needed, Dr Wham says.

“Malnutrition in community-living older adults is often attributed to long-standing inadequate intake.

Making screening of the most vulnerable part of the routine in primary care is important to identify those at risk. Screening needs to be followed by referral to a dietitian, who are the experts in nutrition assessment and treatment, to ensure the right people are receiving the right care at the right time.”

Dysphagia risk, low muscle strength and poor cognition predict malnutrition risk in older adults at hospital admission was recently published in BMC Geriatrics. The paper was co-authored by Idah Chatindiara (PhD student, Massey University), Dr Jacqueline Allen (University of Auckland), Amy Popman (Master of Science [nutrition and dietetics] student, Massey University), Darshan Patel (Master of Science [nutrition and dietetics] student, Massey University), Dr Marilize Richter (Massey University), Professor Marlena Kruger (Massey University) and Dr Carol Wham (Massey University).

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis Review: Voulez-Vous Couchez Avec Moi? - C'est Chic, Ça Colette!

Starring the ravishingly vibrant Keira Knightley in the title role, Colette is a fairly pedestrian paint-by numbers biopic - which is a little disappointing, given that its cross-dressing and pansexual protagonist lead anything but a dull life. More>>

Wellington Repertory Theatre: New Season Includes Royal Hunt of The Sun

“The objective behind our ambitious 2019 season is to expand our offering to a broader range of Wellingtonians. It’s the first time in over a decade that we’ve produced four shows, and the first time we will be performing at the Hannah Payhouse,” says Oliver Mander, WRT’s President. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Revenants - They Shall Not Grow Old

Jackson has toiled laboriously in the trenches of the digital revolution for decades, with his two turgid Tolkien trilogies constantly pushing the envelope in terms of computer-generated entertainment and providing his latest project with sufficient combat experience to warrant serious Oscar consideration for its remarkable technical achievements. More>>

Unseen Let It Be Footage: Peter Jackson Making "The Ultimate Beatles Film"

Jackson's new film will be compiled from fifty-five hours of never-released studio footage of The Beatles recording their final album Let It Be in January 1969. More>>

NZCT Grants More Than $150,000 to Community Sports

NZCT has approved grants to the Tauranga Boxing Academy, provided a new lease of life to old yachts, benefitted sports at Tiniroto School, and helped to upgrade Christchurch City BMX Club track. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland