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Lower limb fracture, cognitive impairment and risk of subsequent malnutrition: a prospective evaluation of dietary energy and protein intake on an orthopaedic ward

By Michelle D Miller, Elaine Bannerman, L A Daniels and M Crotty


Objective: To report the dietary energy and protein intake of undernourished older adults (with and without cognitive impairment) admitted to hospital following a lower limb fracture and to determine whether dietary intakes met estimated requirements.\ud \ud Design: An observational study of a sequential sample.\ud \ud Setting: The orthopaedic ward of a South Australian metropolitan teaching hospital.\ud \ud Subjects: Sixty-eight patients aged 70 years screened as undernourished and admitted to hospital following lower limb fracture (50% cognitively impaired) provided 3 to 5 days of dietary data.\ud \ud Major outcome methods: Dietary energy and protein intake.\ud \ud Methods: Dietary assessment using plate waste methodology and snack record charts commenced within 6 days postinjury and continued for up to five consecutive days or until discharge. Estimated resting energy requirements were calculated and adjusted for activity equivalent to bed rest and physiological stress. Protein requirements were calculated as 1 g/kg/day. Cognition was assessed using the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire.\ud \ud Results: Cognitively impaired participants and those without cognitive impairment consumed, mean (95% CI) respectively, 3661 kJ/day (3201, 4121) versus 4208 kJ/day (3798, 4619) and 38 g (33, 44) versus 47 g (41, 52) protein/day. Cognitively impaired participants consumed mean (95% CI) 48% (43, 53) of estimated total energy expenditure and 78% (69, 87) of estimated protein requirements.\ud \ud Conclusions: Orthopaedic fracture patients at greatest nutritional risk, including those with cognitive impairment, do not achieve estimated energy or protein requirements from diet alone. Effective methods of achieving requirements in this vulnerable group are needed before improvements in outcomes will be observed.\ud \ud Sponsorship: The research was undertaken with support from the National Health and Medical Research Council who provided a Public Health Postgraduate Research Scholarship to assist the first author in completion of a PhD

Publisher: Nature
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