[Nutritional status of elderly institutionalized subjects in a health district in Frosinone (Italy)].Ig Sanita Pubbl. 2009 Jan-Feb; 65(1):17-28.IS
In recent years there has been a constant increase in the number of elderly people being admitted to nursing homes. Elderly nursing home residents seem to have a higher risk of malnutrition with respect to the community dwelling elderly population. A study was therefore performed to evaluate the nutritional status of elderly subjects living in 8 nursing homes in the "D" health district in Frosinone (Italy). Subjects aged over 65 years living in one of the selected nursing homes since at least two months were invited to participate. Nutritional status was evaluated by anthropometric measurements to calculate the Body Mass Index and by data collected through the Mini Nutritional Assessment. Additional data regarding the subject's educational level, social life, family ties, length of stay in the facility, physical activity, medical conditions, frequency of diarrhoeal episodes and eating habits, were collected through a questionnaire. Statistical analysis of data was performed with Epi Info software version 3.3 One hundred eighty four subjects participated in the study, 69.4% of which had been admitted to the nursing home following a request by their family, mainly for health reasons or because the family could no longer take care of them. Approximately 38% of subjects admitted having a moderate decrease in functional independence. The mean BMI was found to be 27.3 while the mean MNA was 20.6, with no sex- or age-related differences. The prevalence of underweight based on BMI threshold values was 6.3%; 30.8% of subjects were normal weight. On the other hand, MNA results revealed that 13% of study subjects were malnourished and 66.1% were at risk for malnutrition. These results indicate that assessment of nutritional status in elderly subjects should not be based on BMI alone and that MNA is a more appropriate tool in the elderly as it allows for a dynamic evaluation of the risk of malnutrition in this population. The results of this study also show a high risk of malnutrition in the study sample, and confirm the need for increased surveillance of nutritional status among residents of nursing homes.