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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2011 May;12(4):295-301. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2010.12.005. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Post-discharge nutritional support in malnourished elderly individuals improves functional limitations.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Internal Medicine, and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Older people are vulnerable to malnutrition, which leads to negative outcomes. This study evaluates the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation in malnourished elderly patients after hospital discharge.


Hospital-admitted malnourished elderly patients (≥ 60 years) were randomized to receive either nutritional supplementation (energy and protein enriched diet, oral nutritional support, calcium-vitamin D supplement, telephone counseling by a dietitian) for 3 months postdischarge or usual care. Outcomes were functional limitations, physical performance, physical activities, body weight, fat-free mass, and handgrip strength. Measurements were performed at hospital admission (baseline) and at 3 months after discharge. Data were analyzed according to the intention-to-treat principle.


A total of 210 patients were included, 105 in each group. Body weight increased more in the intervention group than in the control group; this was significant for the highest body weight category (mean difference 3.4 kg, 95% CI 0.2-6.6). Functional limitations decreased more (mean difference -0.5 (95% CI -1.0-0.1) in the intervention group than in the control group. When excluding patients who had already received nutritional support before the start of the study, this reached significance. No significant differences could be demonstrated for physical performance, physical activities, fat-free mass, or handgrip strength.


Three months of oral nutritional support to malnourished elderly decreased functional limitations and increased body weight. It can be questioned if a follow-up of only 3 months was not too short to detect differences on physical performance and physical activities as well.

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