The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) review of the literature--What does it tell us?

J Nutr Health Aging. Nov-Dec 2006;10(6):466-85; discussion 485-7.


To review the literature on the MNA to Spring 2006, we searched MEDLINE, Web of Science and Scopus, and did a manual search in J Nutr Health Aging, Clin Nutr, Eur J Clin Nutr and free online available publications.

Validation and validity: The MNA was validated against two principal criteria, clinical status and comprehensive nutrition assessment using principal component and discriminant analysis. The MNA shortform (MNA-SF) was developed and validated to allow a 2-step screening process. The MNA and MNA-SF are sensitive, specific, and accurate in identifying nutrition risk.

Nutritional screening: The prevalence of malnutrition in community-dwelling elderly (21 studies, n = 14149 elderly) is 2 +/- 0.1% (mean +/- SE, range 0- 8%) and risk of malnutrition is 24 +/- 0.4% (range 8-76%). A similar pattern is seen in out-patient and home care elderly (25 studies, n = 3119 elderly) with prevalence of undernutrition 9 +/- 0.5% (mean +/- SE, range 0-30%) and risk of malnutrition 45 +/- 0.9% (range 8-65%). A high prevalence of undernutrition has been reported in hospitalized and institutionalized elderly patients: prevalence of malnutrition is 23 +/- 0.5% (mean +/- SE, range 1- 74%) in hospitals (35 studies, n = 8596) and 21 +/- 0.5% (mean +/- SE, range 5-71%) in institutions (32 studies, n = 6821 elderly). An even higher prevalence of risk of malnutrition was observed in the same populations, with 46 +/- 0.5% (range 8-63%) and 51 +/- 0.6% (range 27-70%), respectively. In cognitively impaired elderly subjects (10 studies, n = 2051 elderly subjects), detection using the MNA, prevalence of malnutrition was 15 +/- 0.8% (mean +/- SE, range 0-62%), and 44 +/- 1.1% (range 19-87%) of risk of malnutrition.

Characteristics: The large variability is due to differences in level of dependence and health status among the elderly. In hospital settings, a low MNA score is associated with an increase in mortality, prolonged length of stay and greater likelihood of discharge to nursing homes. Malnutrition is associated with functional and cognitive impairment and difficulties eating. The MNA(R) detects risk of malnutrition before severe change in weight or serum proteins occurs.

Nutritional intervention: Intervention studies demonstrate that timely intervention can stop weight loss in elderly at risk of malnutrition or undernourished and is associated with improvements in MNA scores. The MNA can also be used as a follow up assessment tool.

Conclusion: The MNA is a screening and assessment tool with a reliable scale and clearly defined thresholds, usable by health care professionals. It should be included in the geriatric assessment and is proposed in the minimum data set for nutritional interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutrition Disorders / complications
  • Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / complications
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / diagnosis*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Weight Loss