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Clin Nutr. 2017 Aug;36(4):958-967. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2016.06.025. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Hospital malnutrition in Latin America: A systematic review.

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Department of Surgery, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Medical School, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Electronic address:
Critical Care Unit, Department of Medicine, Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Department of Gastroenterology, LIM 35, University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil.



Disease-related malnutrition is a major public health issue in both industrialised and emerging countries. The reported prevalence in hospitalised adults ranges from 20% to 50%. Initial reports from emerging countries suggested a higher prevalence compared with other regions, with limited data on outcomes and costs.


We performed a systematic literature search for articles on disease-related malnutrition in Latin American countries published between January 1995 and September 2014. Studies reporting data on the prevalence, clinical outcomes, or economic costs of malnutrition in an adult (≥18 years) inpatient population with a sample size of ≥30 subjects were eligible for inclusion. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed by two independent reviewers using published criteria.


We identified 1467 citations; of these, 66 studies including 29 ,474 patients in 12 Latin American countries met the criteria for inclusion. There was considerable variability in methodology and in the reported prevalence of disease-related malnutrition; however, prevalence was consistently in the range of 40%-60% at the time of admission, with several studies reporting an increase in prevalence with increasing duration of hospitalisation. Disease-related malnutrition was associated with an increase in infectious and non-infectious clinical complications, length of hospital stay, and costs.


Disease-related malnutrition is a highly prevalent condition that imposes a substantial health and economic burden on the countries of Latin America. Further research is necessary to characterise screening/assessment practices and identify evidence-based solutions to this persistent and costly public health issue.


Assessment; Cost; Hospital; Malnutrition; Prevalence; Screening

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