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Aging (Milano). 2001 Oct;13(5):370-7.

Nutritional status and chewing capacity in nursing home residents.

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  • 1Institute of Odontology, Department of Geriatric Dentistry, Huddinge, Sweden.


Chronically ill elderly persons sustain a high risk for protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). In this study we explored some of the complex associations between nutritional status, dental health and cognitive and physical function in 192 nursing home residents (mean age 84+/-8 years, 80% female). Nutrition-related data from the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) were compiled into a Nutrition Score (NuSc; 0-1 = non-PEM, 2 = risk for PEM, and 3-7 = PEM). Chewing capacity, according to number and condition of occlusal contacts, was determined by a Clinical Dental Functionality score (CDF). The Cognitive Performance Scale (CPS) and activities of daily living (ADL) were determined according to the RAI. Fifty percent of the residents had NuSc > or = 2, and 25% had NuSc > or = 3. One third did not have the dental prerequisites for chewing. i.e., < 4 occlusal contacts. Almost half of the residents had severe cognitive dysfunction, and over two thirds were severely limited in their ADL activities. Subjects with > or = 4 occlusal contacts, i.e., technical chewing capacity, had better NuSc (1.5+/-1.4) than those not able to chew (2.4+/-1.6, p=0.0005). In univariate logistic regression, the odds for NuSc > or = 2 increased with reduced ADL functions. inability to chew and poor cognition. In multivariate logistic regression, ADL and chewing capacity were significantly related to NuSc > or = 2. When NuSc > or = 3 was chosen as cut-off, only ADL was related to malnutrition. In conclusion, half of this group of nursing home residents appeared to be malnourished, or were at risk for PEM. Reduced physical function was the strongest predictor of PEM, while impaired chewing capacity was associated with risk for PEM.

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