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Nutr Hosp. 2012 Mar-Apr;27(2):469-76. doi: 10.1590/S0212-16112012000200018.

Prevalence of malnutrition and its etiological factors in hospitals.

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Nutritional Support Unit, University Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.



Malnutrition among inpatients is highly prevalent, and has a negative impact on their clinical outcome. The Working Group for the Study of Malnutrition in Hospitals in Catalonia was created to generate consensus guidelines for the prevention and/or treatment of malnutrition in hospitals in Catalonia, Spain.


The objectives of the study were to determine the prevalence of malnutrition on admission to hospital in Catalonia and to assess relationships between malnutrition, social and demographic data, overall costs, and mortality.


Prospective and multicenter study conducted with 796 patients from 11 hospitals representative of the hospitalized population in Catalonia. Nutritional status was evaluated using the Nutritional Risk Screening 2002 method.


Overall, 28.9% of the patients are malnourished or at nutritional risk. Elderly patients, non-manual workers, those admitted to hospital as emergencies and with higher co-morbidities had higher risk of malnutrition. The type of hospital (second level vs. tertiary or University referral) to which they were admitted was also a factor predisposing to malnutrition. Length of hospital stay was longer in malnourished patients (10.5 vs. 7.7 days, p < 0.0001). The need for a convalescent home on leaving hospital was higher as well as the risk of mortality (8.6% malnourished vs. 1.3% nonmalnourished, p < 0.0001).


The prevalence of malnutrition is high in patients on admission to hospital in our community, resulting in elevated overall costs and higher risk of mortality. Age, social class and characteristics of the Unit and the Hospital are the main factors involved in hospital malnutrition.

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