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We’re Part of the Solution: Malnutrition Prevention, Treatment

      It has been 44 years since Charles Butterworth, Jr wrote The Skeleton in the Hospital Closet, a bold exposé of the direct connections among malnutrition, morbidity, and mortality, and malnutrition’s inadequate recognition and treatment in health care facilities. Despite this clear call to action, malnutrition remains a major contributor to suboptimal health.
      Defined as a deficiency excess or imbalance in energy and/or nutrients, malnutrition may cause or exacerbate serious medical conditions. It impacts independence, severity of chronic disease, and mortality, especially in older adults. We are paying more than $15.5 billion annually for the consequences of critical food and nutrition-related disease.
      • Goates S.
      • Du K.
      • Braunschweig C.A.
      • Arensberg M.B.
      Economic burden of disease-associated malnutrition at the state level.
      “Evidence suggests that 20% to 50% of patients are at risk for malnutrition or already malnourished at the time of hospital admission. Unfortunately, only 7% of these patients are typically diagnosed with malnutrition during their hospital stay.”

      Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Avalere Health. MQii: Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative. http://malnutrition.com/static/pdf/complete-mqii-toolkit.pdf. Accessed June 28, 2018.

      We can and will be part of the solution to malnutrition. Academy members have the knowledge and expertise to identify malnutrition across the life cycle and around the globe. We have committed our organization and our profession to its prevention and treatment.
      The Academy and Avalere have developed quality measures aimed at performance gaps in malnutrition care. We have embarked on a multi-stakeholder initiative to place malnutrition front and center in health care settings. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs) play important roles in the identification of, and intervention for, malnourished individuals. RDNs can help diagnose malnutrition, and both RDNs and NDTRs can help assess, document, and treat malnutrition in a variety of practice settings.
      Read more about the Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative in the Public Policy News section of this month’s Journal (pp 1761-1763).
      The Academy has partnered for several years with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) during Malnutrition Awareness Week, which this year is September 24-28, to promote improved care. This year, the Academy is expanding efforts to raise awareness of malnutrition and to promote the valuable contributions of RDNs and NDTRs. Our new September Spotlight on Malnutrition will focus on a different aspect of the disease each week:
      • 1)
        pediatric malnutrition;
      • 2)
        adult and senior malnutrition;
      • 3)
        special populations and malnutrition, including pregnancy, vegetarian, overweight and obesity; and
      • 4)
        global malnutrition.
      The September Spotlight on Malnutrition will culminate in Malnutrition Awareness Week, when we will broaden the conversation and join organizations across the country to showcase this critical issue. Academy communications throughout the month will feature articles, research updates, and links to Academy resources that provide the tools you need in your practice. Join the events, whether a social media opportunity or a free continuing education webinar from the Academy’s Lifelong Learning Center.

      Expanded Resources

      The malnutrition dialogue continues in October at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) and at the Public Policy Workshop immediately following FNCE in Washington, DC. Educational sessions will offer robust strategies and best practices for fighting malnutrition in individuals of all ages.
      Visit www.eatrightFNCE.org for more information.
      The malnutrition-focused Public Policy Workshop will kick off with pre-event educational webinars. Onsite, join us for a face-to-face training session after the FNCE Closing Session. The next day, join Academy members for a rally on the Capitol Hill steps and to advocate with your senators and representatives for policies that help RDNs and NDTRs prevent and treat malnutrition.
      Visit www.eatrightPRO.org/PPW to learn more.

      Lead the Charge

      RDNs and NDTRs—and all Academy members—can and will lead the charge in the fight against malnutrition. We’re already doing great work and we will do more. Embrace the September Spotlight on Malnutrition and national Malnutrition Awareness Week to reduce malnutrition in the United States and around the world.

      References

        • Goates S.
        • Du K.
        • Braunschweig C.A.
        • Arensberg M.B.
        Economic burden of disease-associated malnutrition at the state level.
        PLOS One. 2016; 11 (Accessed June 18, 2018): e0161833
      1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Avalere Health. MQii: Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative. http://malnutrition.com/static/pdf/complete-mqii-toolkit.pdf. Accessed June 28, 2018.