Call for action on findings of malnutrition study

Professor Terry Bolin, a conjoint Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales, has called for action on the results of a 2006 study carried out at The Prince of Wales Hospital.

The study showed that 80 per cent of the elderly who presented for admission were either actually malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The ground-breaking study was carried out in collaboration between the Gut Foundation, The Prince of Wales Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Department of Geriatric Medicine.

“Australian health bureaucracies have ignored important local study findings on malnutrition in the elderly contributing to the current crisis in the hospital system.” Said Professor Bolin.

A parallel study examined the potential for poor absorption of food and found it to be present in one in five of the elderly possibly contributing to the development of malnutrition. By implementing basic intervention measures in a randomised study group, dieticians were able to halve the length of hospital stay in elderly patients from 19 to 10 days. Applying a nutritional care plan the dieticians simply made sure patients received their meals, ate them and that they were appropriate for the patient’s condition.

“What we need is a set of practical guidelines for detecting under- nutrition or the risk of developing under-nutrition in a health care setting, such as those proposed by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPENM)”, said Professor Bolin.

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