Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 Jul;41(7):725-31.

Oral health problems and involuntary weight loss in a population of frail elderly.

Author information

Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, Little Rock, AK 72205.



To evaluate whether poor oral health is a potentially reversible contributor to the development of significant involuntary weight loss in elderly rehabilitation patients.


Survey (cross-sectional study).


Geriatric Rehabilitation Unit (GRU) of a Veterans Administration hospital.


One hundred ten consecutive admissions to the GRU, of whom 99% were male and 80% were white. The average age of the study patients was 77 years.


At admission each patient completed a comprehensive medical, neuro-psychological, social, nutritional, and dental assessment. Previous weights were documented by review of old medical records. Involuntary weight loss was considered significant if it was greater than 5% of pre-weight-loss weight within 6 months or 10% of pre-weight-loss weight within 1 year. Of the 97 variables evaluated, the strongest predictors of significant involuntary weight loss prior to GRU admission were identified using univariate and multivariate (stepwise logistic regression) analyses.


The number of general oral problems was the best predictor of significant involuntary weight loss within 1 year prior to GRU admission, followed by household income, age, smoking status, adequacy of nutrient intake prior to admission, and education. When all six of the variables were included in the stepwise logistical regression analysis, the model had a sensitivity of 63.2%, a specificity of 91.1%, and overall predictive accuracy of 86.2%. The number of general oral problems was also a strong predictor of significant weight loss within 6 months prior to GRU admission.


Poor oral health may be an important contributing factor to the development of significant involuntary weight loss among the frail elderly. If this is true, it places even greater emphasis on the need for maintaining an optimal state of oral health in our elderly patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center