Malnutrition among older adults living in Portuguese nursing homes: the PEN-3S study

Teresa Madeira, Catarina Peixoto-Plácido, Nuno Sousa-Santos, Osvaldo Santos, Violeta Alarcão, Beatriz Goulão, Nuno Mendonça, Paulo Jorge Nicola, Agneta Yngve, Asta Bye, Astrid Bergland, Teresa F Amaral, Carla Lopes, João Gorjão Clara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: To characterise the nutritional status and to identify malnutrition-associated variables of older adults living in Portuguese nursing homes.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. Data on demographic and socio-economic characteristics, self-reported morbidity, eating-related problems, nutritional status, cognitive function, depression symptoms, loneliness feelings and functional status were collected by trained nutritionists through a computer-assisted face-to-face structured interview followed by standardised anthropometric measurements. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with being at risk of malnutrition/malnourished.

SETTING: Portuguese nursing homes.

SUBJECTS: Nationally representative sample of the Portuguese population aged 65 years or over living in nursing homes.

RESULTS: A total of 1186 individuals (mean age 83·4 years; 72·8 % women) accepted to participate. According to the Mini Nutritional Assessment, 4·8 (95 % CI 3·2, 7·3) % were identified as malnourished and 38·7 (95 % CI 33·5, 44·2) % were at risk of malnutrition. These percentages increased with age and were significantly higher for women. Logistic regression showed (OR; 95 % CI) that older adults reporting no or little appetite (6·5; 2·7, 15·3), those revealing symptoms of depression (2·6; 1·6, 4·2) and those who were more dependent in their daily living activities (4·7; 2·0, 11·1) were also at higher odds of being malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

CONCLUSIONS: Malnutrition and risk of malnutrition are prevalent among nursing home residents in Portugal. It is crucial to routinely screen for nutritional disorders, as well as risk factors such as symptoms of depression and lower functional status, to prevent and treat malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-497
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date15 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • malnutrition
  • undernutrition
  • mini nutritional assessment
  • BMI
  • older adults
  • nursing homes


Dive into the research topics of 'Malnutrition among older adults living in Portuguese nursing homes: the PEN-3S study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this