Frailty and Malnutrition: Related and Distinct Syndrome Prevalence and Association among Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Studies.

Research paper by Kai K Wei, Ma Shwe Zin MSZ Nyunt, Qi Q Gao, Shiou Liang SL Wee, Tze-Pin TP Ng

Indexed on: 15 Aug '17Published on: 15 Aug '17Published in: Journal of the American Medical Directors Association


The association between frailty and malnutrition is widely noted, but the common and distinct aspects of this relationship are not well understood. We investigated the prevalence of prefrailty/frailty and malnutrition/nutritional risk; their overlapping prevalence; compared their sociodemographic, physical, and mental health risk factors; and assessed their association, independently of other risk factors.Cross-sectional study of population-based cohort (Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study [SLAS]-1 [enrolled 2003-2005] and SLAS-2 [enrolled 2010-2013]) of community-dwelling older Singaporeans aged ≥55 (n = 6045).Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA)-Short Form (SF), Nutritional Screening Initiative (NSI) Determine Checklist, Fried physical frailty phenotype.The overall prevalence of MNA malnutrition was 2.8%, and at risk of malnutrition was 27.6%; the prevalence of frailty and prefrailty were 4.5%, and 46.0% respectively. Only 26.5% of participants who were malnourished were frail, but 64.2% were prefrail (totally 90.7% prefrail or frail). The prevalence of malnutrition among frail participants was 16.1%, higher than in other studies (10%); nearly one-third of the whole population sample had normal nutrition while being prefrail (27.7%) or frail (1.5%). The prevalence of risk factors for prefrailty/frailty and malnutrition/nutritional risk were remarkably similar. MNA at risk of malnutrition and malnutrition were highly significantly associated with prefrailty (odds ratio [OR] 2.11 and 6.71) and frailty (OR 2.72 and 17.4), after adjusting for many other risk factors. The OR estimates were substantially lower with NSI moderate and high nutritional risk for prefrailty (OR 1.39 and 1.74) and frailty (OR 1.27 and 1.93), but remain significantly elevated.Frailty and malnutrition are related but distinct conditions in community-dwelling older adults. The contribution of poor nutrition to frailty in this population is notably greater. Both frail/prefrail elderly and those who are malnourished/at nutritional risk should be identified early and offered suitable interventions.