Prevalence of undernutrition on admission to Swiss hospitals

Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb;29(1):38-41. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.06.005. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


Background & aims: According to the literature, undernutrition is prevalent in 20-60% of patients on hospital admission. The differences in the rate of undernutrition arise from different diagnostic tools used in the studies. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of undernutrition in Swiss hospitals using a standardized screening tool.

Methods: All patients admitted to the departments of internal medicine of 7 Swiss hospitals were screened at entry for nutritional status using the Nutrition Risk Screening 2002 score. Patients with a score of 3 or more, which denotes severe undernutrition or patient "at risk" for undernutrition were analyzed.

Results: Between May 2003 and April 2006 32,837 patients were included in the study. 5978 (18.2%) had a score of 3 or more and were classified as severely undernourished or at high risk for undernutrition (age<45 y: 8%; 45-64 y: 11%; 65-84 y: 22%; >85 y: 28%). A nutritional intervention was made in 4175 patients (12.7%).

Conclusions: Nearly one in five patients was severely undernourished or "at risk" for undernutrition. Undernutrition was directly related to age. Patients with a clear indication for nutrition therapy, as suggested by the formal screening procedure, obtained nutritional intervention in 70%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Switzerland / epidemiology