The Ohio State University
College of Pharmacy
Malnutrition is a condition seen all over the world, not just in developing nations.
In the United States, food deserts (areas without access to high-quality food) exist in rural and urban areas alike, affecting our society’s nutritional health community by community, state by state, throughout the country.
Even in areas where healthy foods are available, Americans have a propensity to ingest too much salt, saturated fat, and added sugars while not including adequate servings of fruits and vegetables. The result is a high percentage of our population being overweight or obese (67%),1the latter of which is a form of malnutrition.
Despite these challenges, this is an important health care issue that needs to be addressed. In hospitalized patients, the presence of malnutrition is associated with poor outcomes after surgery (urinary tract or wound infections), poor response to disease management, and increased ICU and hospital lengths of stay.2 In elderly patients, malnutrition is a common denominator to the development of “frailty,” a generalized decline in functional and cognitive ability that reduces an individual’s independence, leading to social isolation and depression.
Because recognition of malnutrition often is missed during assessments within our health care system, it is important that all health care practitioners, in all sites of care, be aware of this “invisible” diagnosis that impedes our ability to successfully manage acute and chronic diseases with medications and medical care.
The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) offers a Malnutrition Resource Center to provide resources and support to help health professionals prevent and treat malnutrition (www.nutritioncare.org/?guidelines_and_clinical_resources/?Malnutrition_Solution_Center/?) as well as an annual Malnutrition Awareness Week, a multiorganizational, multipronged campaign that aims to 1) educate health care professionals to identify and treat malnutrition; 2) educate consumers/patients to discuss their nutritional status with health care professionals; and 3) increase awareness of nutrition’s role on patient recovery. These resources can help you stay abreast of the latest knowledge about malnutrition to facilitate improved nutritional care for your patients.
- Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, et al. Prevalence and trends in obesity among U.S. adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3):235-241.
- Defeat Malnutrition Today. Advancing policies for quality malnutrition care in older adults: a state legislative toolkit. https://bit.ly/?2iTsds2. June 2017. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Bill S 2499. An Act Establishing a Commission on Malnutrition Prevention Among Older Adults. https://malegislature.gov/?Bills/?189/?S2499. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- John R. Kasich, Governor of Ohio. Kasich signs seventeen bills [press release]. https://bit.ly/?2p4QHlx. December 19, 2016. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- GovTrack. HR 1413: ENRICH Act. www.govtrack.us/?congress/?bills/?115/?hr1413. Accessed September 17, 2018.