The association between nutritional status and frailty characteristics among geriatric outpatients

Published:November 30, 2017DOI:



      Frailty is a common clinical syndrome in older adults and is associated with an increased risk of poor health outcomes, e.g. falls, disability, hospitalization, and mortality. Nutritional status might be an important factor contributing to frailty. This study aims to describe the association between nutritional status and characteristics of frailty in patients attending a geriatric outpatient clinic.


      Clinical data was collected of 475 patients who visited the geriatric outpatient department of a Dutch hospital between 2005 and 2010. Frailty was determined by: incontinence, Activities of Daily Living (ADL), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), mobility, Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE). Nutritional status was represented by the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) and plasma concentrations of several micronutrients, whereby MNA< 17 indicated malnutrition and MNA 17–23.5 indicated risk of malnutrition. ‘More frail’ patients (≥3 frailty characteristics) were compared to ‘less frail’ patients (<3 frailty characteristics) with logistic regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex and other important covariates.


      Of 404 patients with complete data, mean age (SD) was 80 (7) years and 34% was male. Prevalence of ‘more frail’ patients was 47%. Prevalence of malnutrition and risk of malnutrition was 16% and 56% respectively. Malnutrition and risk of malnutrition were both independently related to being ‘more frail’, with ORs (95% CI) of 8.1 [3.5–18.8] and 3.1 [1.7–5.5] respectively. This association was driven by functional decline (ADL, IADL and mobility) and depression (GDS), but not by cognitive impairment (MMSE). None of the micronutrient plasma concentrations were related to frailty.


      In geriatric outpatients, malnutrition is independently related to having ≥3 frailty characteristics. Assessing nutritional status could prove usefulness in early clinical detection and prevention of frailty.


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