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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;69(5):565-71. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.183. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

High degree of BMI misclassification of malnutrition among Swedish elderly population: Age-adjusted height estimation using knee height and demispan.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.



The degree of misclassification of obesity and undernutrition among elders owing to inaccurate height measurements is investigated using height predicted by knee height (KH) and demispan equations.


Cross-sectional investigation was done among a random heterogeneous sample from five municipalities in Southern Sweden from a general population study 'Good Aging in Skåne' (GÅS). The sample comprised two groups: group 1 (KH) including 2839 GÅS baseline participants aged 60-93 years with a valid KH measurement and group 2 (demispan) including 2871 GÅS follow-up examination participants (1573 baseline; 1298 new), aged 60-99 years, with a valid demispan measurement. Participation rate was 80%. Height, weight, KH and demispan were measured. KH and demispan equations were formulated using linear regression analysis among participants aged 60-64 years as reference. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated in kg/m(2).


Undernutrition prevalences in men and women were 3.9 and 8.6% by KH, compared with 2.4 and 5.4% by standard BMI, and more pronounced for all women aged 85+ years (21% vs 11.3%). The corresponding value in women aged 85+ years by demispan was 16.5% vs 10% by standard BMI. Obesity prevalences in men and women were 17.5 and 14.6% by KH, compared with 19.0 and 20.03% by standard BMI. Values among women aged 85+ years were 3.7% vs 10.4% by KH and 6.5% vs 12.7% by demispan compared with the standard.


There is an age-related misclassification of undernutrition and obesity attributed to inaccurate height estimation among the elderly. This could affect the management of patients at true risk. We therefore propose using KH- and demispan-based formulae to address this issue.

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