Medical nutrition solutions have been raised at a Nestlé Health Science-sponsored congress in Bilbao, Spain, where a study showed one in four Spanish hospital patients is malnourished.
That translated to a 25% increased treatment cost.
“…patients experiencing disease-related malnutrition showed higher incidence of complications, worse quality of life and functional status and increased mortality,” said Professor Mercè Planas Vila, MD, Intensivist and Nutritionist from the University of Vic, Barcelona.
The PREDyCES study referred to assessed 1,597 patients in public and private hospitals in Spain, with Professor Planas Vila noting disease-related malnutrition was not confined to hospitals but also concerned patients in the community.
Professor Mark Nuijten, MD, CEO of Ars Accessus Medica and Founder of the Minerva International Health Economic Network, said nutrition-based solutions could reduce medical complications, length of hospital stay and decrease mortality.
He said annual cost saving of €40.4m were achievable based on 160,283 yearly abdominal procedures.
Professor Jean-Blaise Wasserfallen, from the Medical Director of the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV) and Head of the Health Technology Assessment Unit in Switzerland, spoke of the potential of immunonutrition.
It was, “a special kind of nutrition containing arginine, fish oil and nucleotides, with immunomodulating properties designed to increase the immunology defences of the organism.”
US and Swiss data showed a reduction in post-operative infection rates and the length of hospital stay by 2 to 3 days per patient in high-risk patients such as those considered for gastrointestinal cancer surgery.
“Nutrition is still an under-valued treatment modality,” he said.
Patrick Coppens, director of International Food and Health Law and Scientific Affairs at EAS and president of the Belgian National Food and Health Plan Task Force on Under-nutrition said EU bodies were looking closely at address malnutrition in an ageing society.
In this direction the European Commission has made malnutrition one of five priorities for the 2012/2013 ‘Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing’.
More than 20 million people are at risk of malnutrition in the EU, with an estimated 50% receiving no treatment.
The EC, Coppens said, “intends to define guidelines for multidisciplinary intervention to prevent and manage malnutrition, with a focus upon nutritional aspects. They will especially support and promote the development of evidence-based guidelines for primary care providers.”