Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Clinical Review

Investigation and management of unintentional weight loss in older adults

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 29 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1732

Rapid Response:

Routine nutrition screening on admission to hospital is needed

We commend the authors for their review of unintentional weight loss
in the elderly for drawing into focus this important subject. What was
interesting is that the authors found no clinical guidelines or
standardized system for investigating this common and complex problem in
their careful literature review.

Many hospitals don't routinely perform
nutritional assessments on patients on admission. Although the authors
describe a detailed medical management plan for unintentional weight loss,
three simple questions on admission to hospital could flag those at risk:
what is your current weight? have you lost weight recently? have you
recently been missing meals or lost your appetite? The implication of this
study is that policy needs to be introduced to routinely screen for those
who are at nutritional risk including those with unintentional weight
loss. As the authors report, mortality within 1-2.5 years of clinically
important weight loss ranges from 9% to 38%, particularly among those
elderly patients recently admitted to hospital. A simple intervention -
routine nutrition screening on admission to hospital - may save lives.

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 April 2011
John C Oldroyd
Research Fellow
Cabrini Institute, 183 Wattletree Tree Rd, Malvern, Victoria 3144