Nutritional status in patients with active inflammatory bowel disease: prevalence of malnutrition and methods for routine nutritional assessment

Eur J Intern Med. 2010 Aug;21(4):315-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2010.04.012.


Background and aim: Malnutrition is a common feature of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are numerous methods for the assessment of nutritional status, but the gold standard has not yet been established. The aims of the study were to estimate the prevalence of undernutrition and to evaluate methods for routine nutritional assessment of active IBD patients.

Material and methods: Twenty-three patients with active Crohn disease, 53 patients with active ulcerative colitis and 30 controls were included in the study. The nutritional status was assessed by extensive anthropometric measurements, percentage of weight loss in the past 1-6 months and biochemical markers of nutrition.

Results: All investigated nutritional parameters were significantly different in IBD patients compared to control subjects, except MCV, tryglicerides and serum total protein level. Serum albumin level and body mass index (BMI) were the most predictive parameters of malnutrition. According to different assessment methods the prevalence of undernutrition and severe undernutrition in patients with active IBD were 25.0%-69.7% and 1.3%-31.6%, respectively, while in the control subjects no abnormalities have been detected. There was no statistically significant difference of nutritional parameters between UC and CD patients except lower mid-arm muscle circumference in UC group.

Conclusions: Malnutrition is common in IBD patients. BMI and serum albumin are simple and convenient methods for the assessment of the nutritional status in IBD patients. Further studies with larger group of patients are necessary to elucidate the prevalence of malnutrition and the most accurate assessment methods in IBD patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications
  • Crohn Disease / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Weight Loss / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Proteins
  • Triglycerides