Here is the Importance and Methods of Conducting Nutritional Assessment
Nutritional status is the degree to which an individual's need for nutrients is being met by the foods that are eaten; there are three common reasons why an assessment of nutritional status is undertaken - first to confirm a diagnosis of malnutrition, secondly to identify the reasons for the presence of malnutrition, and thirdly to provide a means of monitoring the effectiveness of nutritional support.
Nutritional depletion may be caused by inadequate nutritional intake or a failure to digest, absorb, and/or utilize nutrients.
The basic methods used in the clinical nutritional assessment are of four kinds:
1. Anthropometric measures (body measurements)
2. Biochemical tests
3. Clinical observations
4. Dietary evaluation
The particular methods used will depend on the setting and the resources available.
However, there are some general points which need to be kept in mind are as follows:
- No test should be considered in isolation; factors other than nutritional ones -can lead to an abnormal result.
- When there is an element of subjectivity in a test, as in the case of anthropometric measurements, it should always be made by the same observer and performed three times: the average result should then be taken.
- In many cases, blood levels may reflect recent dietary intake rather than any long-term nutritional status, so fasting samples will give more reliable results (e.g. glucose, potassium, protein, vitamins).
- In contrast, mechanisms that operate in the body to keep conditions in a steady state mean that body stores may be depleted before the circulating level of a nutrient shows any measurable decrease, as with zinc and calcium.
- Great care is needed when assessing children, particularly neonates to whom special parameters must be applied. The risk of nutritional deficiencies is increased during times of accelerated growth.