JOURNAL ARTICLE

Nutritional status using the Mini Nutritional Assessment questionnaire and its relationship with bone quality in a population of institutionalized elderly women

V Gerber, M A Krieg, J Cornuz, Y Guigoz, P Burckhardt
Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 2003, 7 (3): 140-5
12766790
Malnutrition, a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures, is frequent in elderly people and, is underdiagnosed and undertreated. There are only few studies on the nutritional status of elderly people in Europe. The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) is a non invasive and validated questionnaire to evaluate nutritional status in elderly people, classified in three groups: 1 degree score < 17: malnourished, 2 degrees score >17 and < 24: at risk of malnutrition, 3 degrees score >24: well-nourished, with a maximum of 30 points. Quantitative ultrasound of bone (QUS) is a method for assessing quality of bone which can be easily performed in nursing homes. Therefore, these two tests allowed to study the relationships between nutritional status and ultrasonic parameters of bone in 78 institutionalized women aged 86 +/- 6 years, living in 11 nursing homes around Lausanne (Switzerland). All were assessed by the MNA, had a measurement of the tricipital skin fold and of the grip strength. Functional status was evaluated by the scale "Activity of Daily Living" (ADL), and serum albumin level was measured when permitted. All had QUS of the calcaneus (with an Achilles, GE Lunar). The measured parameters are the Broadband Ultrasound Attenuation (BUA), attenuation of a band of ultrasonic frequencies through the medium, expressed in dB/MHz, and the Speed of Sound (SOS), speed of the ultrasounds through the medium, expressed in m/s. A third parameter, the stiffness index (SI), expressed as a percentage of the values obtained by the manufacturer in a young population and derived from BUA and SOS, was calculated automatically : SI = (0.67xBUA) + (0.28xSOS) - 420, expressed in percent compared to a young adult population (%YA). Fifteen percent of the women were undernourished and 58% were at risk of malnutrition. As expected, compared with the well-nourished minority, undernourished subjects had significant lower body mass index (BMI), tricipital skin fold (TSF), ADL score and albumin level (p < 0,01). The subjects "at risk of malnutrition" had significant lower BMI, ADL score (p < 0.01), tricipital skin fold and serum albumin (p < 0.05). Ultrasound parameters were low independently of the nutritional status. MNA score correlated significantly with tricipital skin fold (r = 0.508, p < 0.01), ADL (r = 0.538, p < 0.01) and albumin serum level (r = 0.409, p = 0.01). There was a trend for a correlation between the MNA and the ultrasound parameter BUA (r = 0.207, p = 0.07), whereas no correlation was found with SOS and SI. A multivariate analysis showed that tricipital skin fold and ADL explained 61% of the variance of the MNA. In conclusion, using simple and non invasive methods, this study showed that malnutrition and osteoporosis are frequent in institutionalized elderly persons in our country, and the ultrasound parameters are influenced by many others factors in addition to nutrition, especially at this age and in elderly residents of nursing homes.

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