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Am J Public Health. 1993 Jul;83(7):972-8.

Nutrition and health risks in the elderly: the nutrition screening initiative.

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  • 1Office of the Director, Boston University School of Public Health, MA 02118.



The Nutrition Screening Initiative is a national collaborative effort committed to the identification and treatment of nutritional problems in older persons.


A 14-item checklist of characteristics associated with nutritional status was administered to a random sample of Medicare beneficiaries, aged 70 years and older, in New England. Regression analysis was used to derive item weights that would predict poor nutrient intakes and low perceived health status. Sensitivity and specificity values were reviewed to define low, moderate, and high nutritional risk scores.


A revised checklist containing 10 yes/no items was adopted. Scores of 6 or more points defined persons at high nutritional risk. Twenty-four percent of the Medicare population was estimated to be at high nutritional risk according to the checklist. Among those in the high-risk group, 56% perceived their health to be "fair" or "poor" and 38% had dietary intakes below 75% of the recommended dietary allowances for three or more nutrients.


The Nutrition Screening Initiative Checklist is a brief, easily scored instrument that can accurately identify noninstitutionalized older persons at risk for low nutrient intake and health problems.

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