Hospital and homecare malnutrition and nutritional therapy in Brazil. Strategies for alleviating it: a position paper

Dan Linetzky Waitzberg, José Eduardo de Aguilar-Nascimento, Maria Carolina Gonçalves Dias, Nivaldo Pinho, Robson Moura, Maria Isabel Toulson Davisson Correia


Introduction: Malnutrition in hospitalized patients is not evaluated frequently. However, it is a critical issue given that it has been related to a high rate of infectious complications and increased mortality rates. There is a high prevalence of patients with nutritional impairment in the home environment, which favors their clinical worsening, the increase of re-hospitalizations and, consequently, the increase in public health expenditures.

Objective: Nutrition experts have thoroughly discussed and written this positioning paper on hospital and homecare malnutrition to describe the prevalence of malnutrition in Brazil. Best practice recommendations for nutrition therapy of patients in hospital and homecare, in particular the use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS), to those who are at risk of malnutrition or malnourished were evaluated, and the impact on clinical and economic data were assessed. In addition, they emphasize that investments in oral nutritional supplementation are also important in the homecare environment (home or nursing homes).

Materials and methods: Selected scientific articles on disease-related malnutrition, especially those carried out in Brazil, were assessed. Data on prevalence, clinical outcomes, and economic burdens were reviewed.

Results and conclusion: Several studies have shown the importance of in-hospital nutritional assessment for early detection of malnutrition and early intervention with nutrition therapy, in particular with oral nutritional therapy. Unfortunately, hospital malnutrition remains high in Brazil, with severe consequences for patients. The implementation of universal nutritional screening and diagnosis as well as the therapeutic approach of malnutrition, particularly with the use, when possible, of oral nutrition supplements as the first step to address this condition is still low, and demands the investment in educational resources to change practices. Routine use of nutritional therapy in hospital and homecare settings improves clinical outcomes, is cost effective, and would be expected to help reduce healthcare costs.

Palabras clave

Hospital malnutrition. Homecare malnutrition. Nutrition assessment. Enteral nutrition. Oral nutritional supplements.

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