May nutritional status worsen during hospital stay? A sub-group analysis from a cross-sectional study


Hospital malnutrition is a detrimental prognostic factor regarding hospital mortality, complications, and length of stay. However, the role of hospitalization itself on nutritional status has not been fully elucidated. We report the results of a secondary analysis from the dataset of a recent cross-sectional study at Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy. Data from patients evaluated at admission and discharge were collected and compared. One hundred thirty-nine patients were evaluated. Mean length of stay was 13.6 (± 7.7) days. Patients at risk of malnutrition, according to NRS-2002, were 75 (53.9%), while 63 (45.3%) were malnourished according to ESPEN Criteria. Compared to admission, at discharge, patients reported a significant decrease in Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC)—from 26.5 cm (± 3.6) to 25.9 cm (± 3.7) (p = 0.016), a reduction in Phase angle (PhA)—from 4.25° (± 1.20) to 4.01° (± 1.15) (p = 0.005), fat-free mass (FFM)—from 47.5 kg (± 9.19) to 44.9 kg (± 9.4) (p = 0.03) and fat-free mass index (FFMI)—from 16.9 kg/m2 (± 2.3) to 15.8 kg/m2 (± 2.7) (p = 0.04). Laboratory data showed a reduction of albumin—from 29.2 (± 5.7) to 28.0 (± 5.9) (p = 0.01) and Onodera’s PNI- from 29.1 (± 5.6) to 27.6 kg (± 5.6) (p = 0.039). At the multivariate linear regression analysis, the variables significantly associated with a worsening of PhA at discharge are the PhA value at admission and the diagnosis of malnutrition according to ESPEN Criteria. Hospitalization leads to significative changes in nutritional status. A clinical concern should be raised about the quality of hospital food and meal times and on the need for a clinical nutritionist on the ward.

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Correspondence to Emanuele Rinninella.

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Statement of human and animal rights

The study was carried out according to Declaration of Helsinki and obtained the approval of the local Ethics Committee (Fondazione Policlinico A. Gemelli). Protocol number 53572/17.

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Patients gave their informed consent to participate to the survey.

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Rinninella, E., Cintoni, M., De Lorenzo, A. et al. May nutritional status worsen during hospital stay? A sub-group analysis from a cross-sectional study. Intern Emerg Med 14, 51–57 (2019).

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  • Nutritional status
  • Hospital malnutrition
  • Phase angle
  • Fat-free mass
  • Prognostic nutritional index
  • ESPEN criteria
  • Personalized medicine