Prevalence of Malnutrition | Clinical Nutrition LAM Initiative

Prevalence of Malnutrition

A Growing Concern in Latin American Hospitals

Studies indicate a high prevalence of disease-related malnutrition in hospital patients around the world. According to the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition one in four patients is at risk of malnutrition.1,2,3,4,5,6,7 The prevalence of disease-related malnutrition is very high in Latin America, with up to 50 percent of hospital patients being identified as malnourished.8,9,10,11,12,13

Disease-Related Malnutrition Affects Patients of All Ages

The prevalence of disease-related malnutrition is not restricted to one health care setting or one category of patient; it affects patients of all ages.14 Malnutrition and the risk of malnutrition are common in many hospital wards, including:15

  • Geriatrics
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal medicine
  • Oncology
  • Surgery

Malnutrition can affect all patients

Prevalence of Disease-Related Malnutrition Across Latin America

Several studies have reported data regarding the prevalence of disease-related malnutrition in different patient categories in Latin America. The Latin American Nutrition Study (ELAN, Estudio Latino Americano de Nutrición) cross-sectional, multicenter epidemiologic study used the Subjective Global Assessment (SGA) tool to determine the prevalence of disease-related malnutrition in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Uruguay. More than 50 percent of patients were found to be malnourished, with over 11 percent of this group being considered severely malnourished.8

Additional studies indicated similar prevalence rates of disease-related malnutrition in Brazil:

  • 58 percent of colorectal surgery patients13
  • 54 percent of ICU patients9
  • 48 percent of mixed hospital patients15
  • 44 percent of gastric cancer patients11

This data reveals a growing need to address disease-related malnutrition in Latin America. This is a clear opportunity to improve care and outcomes of patients.

  • 1. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2008.
  • 2. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2009.
  • 3. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2011.
  • 4. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2012.
  • 5. Meijers JM, Schols JM, van Bokhorst-de van der Schueren MA et al. Malnutrition prevalence in the Netherlands: results of the annual dutch national prevalence measurement of care problems. Br J Nutr 2009;101(3):417-423.
  • 6. Imoberdorf R, Mayer R, Krebs P et al. Prevalence of undernutrition on admission to Swiss hospitals. Clin Nutr 2010;29(1):38-41.
  • 7. Schindler K, Pernicka E, Laviano A et al. How nutritional risk is assessed and managed in European hospitals: a survey of 21,007 patients findings from the 2007-2008 cross-sentinel nurtritionDay survey. Clin Nutr 2010;29(5):552-559.
  • 8. a. b. Correia MI, Campos AC, ELAN Cooperative Study. Prevalence of Hospital Malnutrition in Latin America: The Multicenter ELAN Study. Nutrition 2003;19:823–825.
  • 9. a. b. Fontes D, Generoso Sde V, Toulson Davisson Correia MI. Subjective global assessment: a reliable nutritional assessment tool to predict outcomes in critically ill patients. Clin Nutr 2014;33(2):291-295.
  • 10. Garcia RS, Tavares LR, Pastore CA. Nutritional screening in surgical patients of a teaching hospital from Southern Brazil: the impact of nutritional risk in clinical outcomes. Einstein 2013;11(2):147-52.
  • 11. a. b. Prado C, Campos J. Nutritional status of patients with gastrointestinal cancer receiving care in a public hospital; 2010-2011. Nutr Hosp 2013;28(2):405-411.
  • 12. Waitzberg DL. Hospital malnutrition: the Brazilian national survey (IBRANUTRI): a study of 4000 patients. Nutrition 2001;17(7-8):573-80.
  • 13. a. b. De Souza VC, Duradob KF, Limaa ALC et al. Relationship between nutritional status and immediate complications in patients undergoing colorectal surgery. J Coloproc 2013;(33)2:83–91.
  • 14. MNI: Medical Nutritional International Industry. Oral Nutritional Supplements to tackle malnutrition. A summary of the evidence base. Third version 2012.
  • 15. a. b. Pirlich M, Schutz T, Kemps M et al. Prevalence of malnutrition in hospitalized medical patients: impact of underlying disease. Dig Dis 2003;21(3):245-251.

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