Background: Anorexia-related weight loss can have devastating consequences on quality-of-life, morbidity, and mortality. Without a simple tool to evaluate appetite, health care providers often use inaccurate surrogates, such as measurement of energy consumption and nutritional risk, to reflect appetite.
Objective: We aimed to validate a simple tool for assessing appetite and predicting weight loss.
Design: This was a cross-sectional measurement study conducted on long-term care residents and community-dwelling adults. Construct validity of the 8-item Council on Nutrition appetite questionnaire (CNAQ) and its 4-item derivative, the simplified nutritional appetite questionnaire (SNAQ), were examined through correlation with a previously validated research tool: the appetite hunger and sensory perception questionnaire (AHSP). The length and complexity of the AHSP render it inefficient for clinical use. The sensitivity and specificity of the CNAQ and SNAQ to predict significant weight loss were calculated.
Results: Cronbach's alpha coefficients for the CNAQ were 0.47 (long-term care group) and 0.72 (community-dwelling group). In the long-term care group, the CNAQ correlated with the AHSP (r = 0.60, P < 0.001) and with the AHSP domains of taste (r = 0.47, P < 0.0001), hunger (r = 0.51, P < 0.0001), and smell (r = 0.53, P < 0.0001). The CNAQ showed sensitivities and specificities for 5% and 10% weight losses of 80.2 and 80.3 and 82.4 and 81.9, respectively. The SNAQ had sensitivities and specificities for 5% and 10% weight losses of 81.3 and 76.4 and 88.2 and 83.5, respectively.
Conclusions: The SNAQ and CNAQ are short, simple appetite assessment tools that predict weight loss in community-dwelling adults and long-term care residents. The SNAQ is a 4-item derivative of the CNAQ and thus is clinically more efficient.