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J Paediatr Child Health. 2004 May-Jun;40(5-6):299-304.

Obesity and under-nutrition in a tertiary paediatric hospital.

Author information

1
Departments of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

(i) To determine the prevalence of over- and under-nutrition in both inpatients and outpatients in a tertiary paediatric hospital; (ii) to compare the prevalence of over-nutrition with that in the Australian community and (iii) to determine whether nutritional status has an impact on length of stay in hospital.

METHODS:

Patients aged over 12 months were proportionately sampled from medical and surgical wards and outpatient clinics. Data were collected for 245 inpatients (54% male) and 272 outpatients (55% male). Children's height, weight and body mass index (kg/m2) were measured. Overweight, obesity and under-nutrition were defined according to international criteria. Prevalence of overweight and obesity was compared with that in the 1995 Australian National Nutrition Survey (NNS).

RESULTS:

Similar proportions of inpatients and outpatients were underweight (6%) and wasted (4%). The prevalence of overweight and obesity in inpatients (22%) was similar to the NNS but was significantly higher in outpatients (32%, P < 0.0001). In a regression model to predict inpatient length of stay, nutritional status (P = 0.004) and the interaction between age and nutritional status (P = 0.009) were significant predictors. For over-nourished inpatients, length of stay increased significantly with age. For normally nourished and under-nourished inpatients, length of stay was relatively constant, regardless of age.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is a high prevalence of over-nutrition in paediatric patients, and increased length of stay for older over-nourished inpatients. These issues need to be addressed in terms of opportunities for intervention and impact on hospital resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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