Affiliations: International Center for the Assessment of Nutritional Status, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Botticelli 21, 20133 Milan, Italy. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Chief of the coordinating center, Dietetic and Clinical Nutrition Unit, Regional General Hospital of Bolzano, Via Boehler 5, 39100 Bolzano, Italy | National Institute for Research on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), Rome, Italy | Dietetic and Clinical Nutrition Unit, “Niguarda-Ca Granda” Hospital, Milan, Italy | Department of Applied Dietetic Technical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy | Dietetic and Clinical Nutrition Unit, “S.Camillo-Forlanini” Hospital, Rome, Italy | Dietetic and Clinical Nutrition Unit, University Hospital San Giovanni Battista, Turin, Italy | Department of Clinical Medicine, University “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy | Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, “Federico II” University, Naples, Italy
Abstract: Hospital malnutrition is high in every country it was investigated, but no nationally representative prevalence study, considering potential geographical interfering factors, has yet been performed. We designed a multidisciplinary, cross-sectional, nation-wide survey: the PIMAI study (Project: Iatrogenic MAlnutrition in Italy). Adult (>18 years old) patient inclusion was managed on a four-strata randomisation model according to sex and age (<65 and ≥65 years). Malnutrition was defined by analytical criteria related to recent food intake and both physical (body mass index, weight loss, midupper arm anthropometry) and biochemical (albumin, prealbumin and lymphocyte count) malnutrition correlates. Thirteen hospitals (n = 1583) completed the study. The survey is likely to represent the country of Italy. Overall prevalence of malnutrition was 30.7%, with higher rates in the northern macroarea (36.7%) than in central (28.0%), southern (26.9%) and island (16.7%) ones (p < 0.0001). This discrepancy appeared to be mainly related to the prevalence of overweight/obesity. By a multivariate model, malnutrition was significantly lower in males (p < 0.05) and surgical wards (p < 0.002), associated with geography (p < 0.05) and consistently higher in patients aged ≥65 years (p < 0.01), presenting with malignancies (p < 0.005) and having multidrug therapy (p < 0.05). The prevalence of hospital malnutrition is high also in Italy. It presents with different geographical distribution also according to overweight prevalence. This evidence should be considered when designing national nutritional policies.