Prevalence of malnutrition and risk of under-nutrition in hospitalized children

Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;31(1):35-40. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.08.011. Epub 2011 Sep 25.


Background & aims: Malnutrition can increase morbidity or mortality and hospitalization may further increase the risk of nutritional deterioration. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of malnutrition and nutritional risk in hospitalized children and to identify any associated factors.

Methods: Nutritional status and risk was defined in 157 hospitalized children using anthropometry and a nutritional risk score (NRS).

Results: The frequency of wasted, stunted, overweight and obese children was 4.5%, 8.9%, 15.1% and 10.4% respectively. Half (52.6%) of the undernourished children were aged less than 2 years of age. Forty-eight percent of the overweight or obese children were aged between 10 and 18 years of age. Based on their NRSs, 47.8% of the children assessed were at high risk of nutritional deterioration whereas 28.7% were at no nutritional risk. Children with higher nutritional risk scores had lower weight for age (p=0.02), lower BMI percentiles (p=0.001) and longer hospitalization (p=0.001) than children at no risk.

Conclusions: One quarter of these hospitalized children were overweight or obese. NRSs identified a group of children at increased risk of nutritional deterioration who subsequently had longer hospital stays. Use of NRSs at admission can identify children requiring focused nutritional assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires