Tag Archives: National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month – Combating Malnutrition

Jessica Marchand, RD, LDNRoseann Hoeye, MBA, RD, LD

By Jessica Marchand, RD, LDN, and Roseann Hoeye, MBA, RD, LD; Directors, Intalere Nutrition & Environmental Services

 In 1974, the article “Skeleton in the Hospital Closet,” by the late Charles E. Butterworth, Jr., M.D., called attention to the existence of malnutrition in our nation’s hospitals. While it’s been more than 40 years since this article was published, hospital malnutrition still remains a serious issue today.

The burden of malnutrition in hospitalized adults is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, especially among older adults. In 2013, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) joined with Avalere, a research and advisory services firm dedicated to solving issues facing our healthcare system, with the mission to highlight the gaps in existing malnutrition care and the impact on patient outcomes. Hence, the Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative (MQii) was born.

The objective of the MQii is to improve the effectiveness and timeliness of malnutrition care through the use of an evidence-based toolkit by all members of a facility’s interdisciplinary team. It also puts greater focus on malnutrition screening and intervention through regulatory and/or legislative changes across the nation’s healthcare system.

According to the MQii, evidence suggests that 20-50% of all patients are at risk or malnourished at the time of hospital admission. Typically diagnosed in only 7% of hospitalized patients, the actual number undiagnosed could be staggering. Moreover, patients who are malnourished during their stay have a substantially greater risk of complications, falls, pressure ulcers, infections, readmissions and longer length of stay, which is associated with increases in healthcare costs up to 300%.

Today, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) continue to focus on improving the speed and accuracy of diagnosing malnutrition and refining nutrition interventions in all healthcare settings. While considerable attention is directed in the hospital setting, malnutrition has been widely established to occur in the non-acute setting as well. Specifically, in long-term care, rehabilitation and behavioral health facilities, to name a few.

In order to address malnutrition in the non-acute setting, the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) published an article in February 2016 that addresses the importance of using validated screening tools and timely referrals by appropriate healthcare providers when malnutrition is suspected. The roles of the Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) and the RDN are key in assessing malnutrition, providing medical nutrition therapy, ensuring food preferences are honored and designing enticing menus.

In summary, RDNs and CDMs have the opportunity to not only increase awareness of malnutrition, but to also improve patient outcomes by working collaboratively with providers in an interdisciplinary healthcare team to administer the best nutrition interventions. With a shared goal to address the patients’ nutritional needs and improve outcomes in a time of national healthcare reform, they can help to properly identify, document and advocate for patients who enter the healthcare continuum with malnutrition or who develop it during their stay.

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National Nutrition Month 2015: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

peter cayanBy Peter Cayan, Senior Director, Nutrition Specialists, Intalere

Healthcare food and nutrition professionals celebrate National Nutrition Month® (NNM) by advocating the importance of making sound food choices and sustaining balanced eating and physical habits. At the center of this campaign is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally known as the American Dietetic Association) whose theme, Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle, encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Initiated in March 1973 as a week-long event, NNM became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. NNM also promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information. Those credentialed practitioners leading the charge are known as Registered Dietitians (RD).

At a time of renaissance in the healthcare industry, when the constant surveillance of cost is seemingly paramount, the role of healthcare prevention has never been stronger. By its definition, prevention refers to helping people avoid getting sick or identifying diseases early so treatment can begin. (1)

In concert with the Academy’s theme, the Office of the Surgeon General cited two key strategies and priorities in the National Prevention Strategy, directed at eating and physical activity plans.

  • Eating healthy can help reduce people’s risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and several types of cancer, as well as help them maintain a healthy body weight. As described in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating healthy means consuming a variety of nutritious foods and beverages, especially vegetables, fruits, low and fat-free dairy products, and whole grains; limiting intake of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium; keeping trans-fat intake as low as possible; and balancing caloric intake with calories burned to manage body weight. Safe eating means ensuring that food is free from harmful contaminants, such as bacteria and viruses.
  • Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve their health. Physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, reduces stress and depression, and makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight or to reduce weight if overweight or obese. Even people who do not lose weight get substantial benefits from regular physical activity, including lower rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Healthy physical activity includes aerobic activity, muscle strengthening activities, and activities to increase balance and flexibility. As described by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, and children and teenagers should engage in at least one hour of activity each day.

In summary, employing simple changes to lifestyle choices and behaviors will assuredly result in the ability to maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health. There is no time like the present…why not begin this month?

(1)  The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD)

Learn more about Intalere’s healthcare food service and nutrition solutions for your organization.

National Nutrition Month: Balancing Economic and Satisfaction Measures

peter cayan

By Peter Cayan
Senior Director, Nutrition Specialists
Intalere

This year healthcare food and nutrition professionals celebrate National Nutrition Month® (NNM) by advocating the importance of making sound food choices and sustaining balanced eating and physical habits. At the center of this campaign is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) whose theme “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” portrays the key message of articulating the premise of “the foods that people enjoy are likely the ones that they’ll eat most.” In short, this year’s message focuses on how to combine taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that follow the Dietary Guidelines recommendations.

Initiated in March 1973 as a week-long event, NNM became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. NNM also promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

So, has there been a shift from today’s theme to yesteryears’ messages? I vividly remember a former professor, from 30 plus years ago, reciting the simple message, “first, food must look good, taste good, and be good for you.” There is no doubt that the profession has made profound advances in nutrition education, marketing and medical nutrition therapies. To their credit, food and nutrition professionals have continued to embrace these new paradigms in their day-to-day operations. However, doing so in the most economic-challenging times.

National healthcare reform continues to drive less available dollars with a laser-focus emphasis on measureable quality patient outcomes. Furthermore, healthcare food and nutrition professionals have a continuous balancing act of economic and satisfaction measures that will ultimately help to define their organizations’ success or demise.

In my next blog post, I will discuss and define the balancing act of four key metrics that healthcare nutrition professionals use to define their performance. 

Bon appetit!