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Nutritional intake and status in persons with alcohol dependency: data from an outpatient treatment programme

Abstract

Purpose

Malnutrition increases the risk of developing alcohol-related complications. The aim of this study was to describe nutrient intake, nutritional status and nutrition-related complications in a Danish population of outpatients with alcohol dependency.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study with a 6-month follow-up enrolling persons with alcohol dependency (n = 80) admitted to a hospital-based outpatient clinic. Body mass index, the waist-to-hip ratio and handgrip strength (HGS) were measured, a 7-day food diary was collected, and biochemical testing was conducted. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was performed to determine body composition and bone mineral density (BMD).

Results

In total, 64 % of the patients with alcohol dependency had vitamin D insufficiency (25-OH-vit D <50 nmol/l). Compared with surveys of the general population, the patients with alcohol dependency had lower energy intake (p = 0.008), s-zinc levels (p < 0.001), s-magnesium levels (p = 0.02), Z-scores for BMD (lumbar spine, p = 0.03; total hip, p = 0.009) and HGS (p < 0.001). Osteopenia was observed in 52 % of individuals, and overt osteoporosis was noted in 7 %. Comparing baseline data with data from the follow-up (n = 30), we found a decrease in s-CRP (p = 0.002) and s-alanine amino transferase (p = 0.01) levels and an increase in s-parathyroid hormone levels (p = 0.02).

Conclusions

Patients with alcohol dependency have an altered nutritional status and risk of complications, as evidenced by osteopenia/osteoporosis and reduced muscle strength. Treatment at an outpatient clinic improved the variables related to liver function, but no change was observed in nutritional status over time. These findings suggest that specific screening and targeted treatment regimens for nutritional deficits could be beneficial.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the patients and staff at the Alcohol Unit, Hvidovre Hospital, for participation and dedicated help with the project. We also want to thank the Clinical Research Centre, Hvidovre Hospital, for statistical advice from Steen Ladelund. The Danish Ministry of Health funded the study.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Anne Wilkens Knudsen.

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Wilkens Knudsen, A., Jensen, JE.B., Nordgaard-Lassen, I. et al. Nutritional intake and status in persons with alcohol dependency: data from an outpatient treatment programme. Eur J Nutr 53, 1483–1492 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0651-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0651-x

Keywords

  • Nutrition
  • Alcohol
  • Addiction
  • Complications