A Swedish research group found an association between malnutrition in older adults and an increased mortality regardless of the cause of death.
Malnutrition is the lack of uptake or intake of nutrition that leads to changes in body composition and weight. Up to 86% of older adults (over 65 years of age) are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and their condition is associated with an increased morbidity, impaired functional ability and lower quality of life. To emphasize the importance of nutritional state, the European Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) published a guideline for nutritional screening using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).
An article was published recently in the British Journal of Nutrition investigating the association between mortality and malnutrition. 1767 older adults were recruited between 2008 and 2009 and followed up for a median of 5.1 years. At baseline, 973 participants (55.1%) were at risk for malnutrition and 166 (9.4%) were malnourished. 839 participants (47.5%) died by the end of the follow-up period, 62.6% of cardiovascular disease and 35.9% of tumor. The study group found an association between malnutrition and death from all of the examined causes, and the survival rate was significantly related to the nutritional screening groups at baseline. Furthermore, in cases of participants with a risk for malnutrition, a significant association was found for 14 out of 20 causes of death.
It seems that malnourished older adults and those at risk for malnutrition may have a higher risk of death, regardless of the cause. Nutritional screening may be able to identify those at risk and prevent preterm death of older adults.
Written By: Dr. Fanni R. Eros