Nutritional Screening of Older Adults : Risk Factors for and Consequences of Malnutrition

Sammanfattning: Aims The overall aim of this thesis was to extend current knowledge about the prevalence of malnutrition, to identify possible risk factors for development of malnutrition, and to describe the consequences of malnutrition in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality among older adults admitted to hospital.Methods The prevalence of malnutrition was estimated in a cohort of 1771 older adults (≥65 years) who were admitted to a Swedish hospital during 2008–2009 (15 months) and screened for malnutrition using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) instrument. Possible risk factors for malnutrition were recorded during the hospital stay (Study I). Dietary intake 10 years earlier (in 1997) was collected for 725 of these older adults (Study II). All-cause (Study III) and cause-specific (Study IV) mortality were followed up after medians of 3.5 and 5.1 years, respectively, for 1767 of the participants.Results The prevalence of malnutrition was 9.4% while 55.1% were at risk of malnutrition. Risk factors for malnutrition was an overnight fast >11 hours, <4 eating episodes a day, and not cooking independently. In middle-aged and older adults with a body mass index <25 kg/m2 in 1997, the risk of malnutrition increased for each additional percentage point of energy from total, saturated and monounsaturated fat at follow-up after 10 years. Malnourished older adults had almost four times higher risk of death during follow-up, while those at risk of malnutrition had a 56% higher risk, compared to well-nourished. Furthermore, well-nourished older adults had consistently lower risk of death, regardless of the cause of death.Conclusions Only 35.5% of older adults admitted to hospital were well-nourished. The identified risk factors could be used in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition. Normal-weight and underweight middle-aged and older adults should consider limiting the intake of total fat and/or improve the quality of the fat in the diet in order to decrease the risk of becoming malnourished later in life. Malnutrition and risk of malnutrition were associated with increased overall and cause-specific mortality. These relationships emphasize the need for nutritional screening to identify individuals who may require nutritional support in order to avoid preterm death.