Prevalence of malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk of Australian paediatric inpatients: A national one-day snapshot

White, Melinda, Dennis, Nicole, Ramsey, Rebecca, Barkwick, Katie, Graham, Christie, Kane, Sarah, Kepreotes, Helen, Queit, Leah, Sweeney, Annabel, Winderlich, Jacinta, Wong See, Denise, & Littlewood, Robyn (2015) Prevalence of malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk of Australian paediatric inpatients: A national one-day snapshot. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 51(3), pp. 314-320.

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Low prevalence rates of malnutrition at 2.5% to 4% have previously been reported in two tertiary paediatric Australian hospitals. The current study is the first to measure the prevalence of malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk of paediatric inpatients in multiple hospitals throughout Australia.


Malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk prevalence were investigated in 832 and 570 paediatric inpatients, respectively, in eight tertiary paediatric hospitals and eight regional hospitals across Australia on a single day. Malnutrition and obesity prevalence was determined using z-scores and body mass index (BMI) percentiles. High nutritional risk was determined as a Paediatric Yorkhill Malnutrition Score of 2 or more.


The prevalence rates of malnourished, wasted, stunted, overweight and obese paediatric patients were 15%, 13.8%, 11.9%, 8.8% and 9.9%, respectively. Patients who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were more likely to have lower height-for-age z-scores (P < 0.01); however, BMI and weight-for-age z-scores were not significantly different. Children who were younger, from regional hospitals or with a primary diagnosis of cardiac disease or cystic fibrosis had significantly lower anthropometric z-scores (P = 0.05). Forty-four per cent of patients were identified as at high nutritional risk and requiring further nutritional assessment.


The prevalence of malnutrition and nutritional risk of Australian paediatric inpatients on a given day was much higher when compared with the healthy population. In contrast, the proportion of overweight and obese patients was less.

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ID Code: 78737
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Article first published online: 15 AUG 2014
Keywords: Nutrition, Malnutrition, Children, Hospital, Australia, Obese
DOI: 10.1111/jpc.12709
ISSN: 1440-1754
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified (111199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Authors
Copyright Statement:

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: FULL CITE, which has been published in final form at Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

Volume 51, Issue 3, pages 314–320. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Deposited On: 17 Nov 2014 22:30
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2016 04:19

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