The prevalence of malnutrition according to the new ESPEN definition in four diverse populations

A G M Rojer, H M Kruizenga, M C Trappenburg, E M Reijnierse, S Sipilä, M V Narici, J Y Hogrel, G Butler-Browne, J S McPhee, M Pääsuke, C G M Meskers, A B Maier, M A E de van der Schueren, S. Sipila, M. Paeaesuke

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Consensus on the definition of malnutrition has not yet been reached. Recently, The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) proposed a consensus definition of malnutrition. The aim of the present study was to describe the prevalence of malnutrition according to the ESPEN definition in four diverse populations.

METHODS: In total, 349 acutely ill middle-aged patients, 135 geriatric outpatients, 306 healthy old individuals and 179 healthy young individuals were included in the study. Subjects were screened for risk of malnutrition using the SNAQ. The ESPEN definition of malnutrition, i.e. low BMI (< 18.5 kg/m(2)) or a combination of unintentional weight loss and low FFMI or low BMI was applied to all subjects.

RESULTS: Screening identified 0, 0.5, 10 and 30% of the healthy young, the healthy old, the geriatric outpatients and the acutely ill middle-aged patients as being at risk of malnutrition. The prevalence of malnutrition ranged from 0% in the healthy young, 0.5% in healthy old individuals, 6% in the geriatric outpatients to 14% in the acutely ill middle-aged patients. Prevalence of low FFMI was observed in all four populations (14-33%), but concurred less frequently with weight loss (0-13%).

CONCLUSIONS: Using the ESPEN definition, 0%-14% malnutrition was found in the diverse populations. Further work is needed to fully address the validity of a two-step approach, including risk assessment as an initial step in screening and defining malnutrition. Furthermore, assessing the predictive validity of the ESPEN definition is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-762
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Consensus
  • Definition
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Europe/epidemiology
  • Fat free mass index
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition
  • Malnutrition/diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Sciences/methods
  • Nutritional Status
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Societies, Scientific
  • Thinness/etiology
  • Young Adult

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