Patients who miss meals or eat too little more likely to die

Mortality risk increases for hospital patients who skip eating or eat too little, according to a study of nearly 60 Australian and New Zealand hospitals. Of more than 3,000 total patients, 1 in 3 malnourished patients (defined as those with a body mass index under 18.5 and a moderate or severe score on a malnutrition scoring tool) ate less than a quarter of the food they were given, according to Ekta Agarwal, Ph.D., of Queensland University of Technology, and these patients were 1.5 times more likely to die within 30 days of admission. "Even well-nourished patients who have a poor food intake during illness over a long period can become malnourished and increase their risk of infection, a longer hospital stay, readmission and death," she said. Study announcement

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