THE ASSESSMENT OF NUTRITIONAL STATUS
The influence of nutrition on the health of the individual is measured through assessment of nutritional status. Within the past decade, there has been tremendous interest in nutritional status, especially that of hospitalized patients, and in developing methods to assess it.
An individual’s nutritional status is the measurement of the degree to which the individual’s physiological need for nutrients is being met. It is the state of balance in the individual between the nutrient intake and the nutrient expenditure or need. Many factors influence this balance. The individual’s nutritional status has an effect on his or her well-being, performance, resistance to disease and growth.
In a thorough nutritional status assessment, all of the following aspects are considered:
- Dietary history and intake data
- Biochemical data
- Clinical examination and pertinent health history
- Anthropometric data
- Psychosocial data
Besides adding to the assessment of health, this information will give the health professional information for anticipating problems and prevention poor nutrition before it develops.
The minimal nutritional screening, especially for the hospitalized patient, includes measurement of height and weight, non-volitional weight loss, change in appetite and serum albumin, all of which can be easily measured in the hospital. This identifies patients at nutritional risk. With regard to all aspects of nutritional status assessment, a finding below the standard means only that the individual is thus ‘at risk’ of developing a clinical nutritional deficiency, which should be verified by a clinical examination.
POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT OF NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY
Certain types of patients are at rick of developing one or multiple nutritional deficiencies. These are:
- Physically stressed, ill or traumatized patients e.g. burn patients.
- patients with swallowing difficulties
- those unable to manage an adequate oral intake
- those requiring or undergoing surgery to the gastro intestinal tract
PURPOSES OR NUTRITIONAL ASSESSMENT
The purpose of the nutritional assessment are (1) to identify a subset of patients in need of further nutritional determinations, and to formulate the Nutrition Diagnosis (2) to establish baseline and (3) to provide a system for early recognition of the probability of health risk due to nutritional factors.