The study, conducted by Abbott Laboratories' nutrition division and
the University of Illinois, noted one in three patients who arrive
at a U.S.-hospital suffer from malnutrition. A further one-third
become malnourished during their stay.
Disease-associated malnutrition (DAM), which is linked with longer
hospital stays, higher rates of readmission and increased mortality,
is considered an invisible affliction as it occurs in both obese and
It disproportionately affects the elderly, who have vulnerable
immune systems and are commonly afflicted with chronic diseases.
While individuals over 65 represent only 14 percent of the American
population, they accounted for nearly a third, or $4.3 billion, of
DAM costs, according to the study.
An aging population and rising medical costs are expected to lift
healthcare spending by an average 5.8 percent annually over the next
decade, the U.S. federal government estimated in July. (http://reut.rs/2cZ3Rfh)
Malnourished patients cost 20 percent more to treat on average, said
lead author Dr Scott Goates, a health economist at Abbott's
nutrition division, which accounted for about 34 percent of the
company's $20.41 billion in 2015 net sales.
The study used publicly available data to calculate the increase in
expenditure due to malnourishment associated with eight common
chronic diseases, including stroke, depression, dementia and
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It did not factor in patients' socio-economic status.
Companies, including Abbott, Nestle SA and Danone SA, sell products
that help in recovery following illness, injury or surgery. These
products are particularly useful for patients having trouble
swallowing or digesting.
"Of course, this could also be accomplished by drinks made from
scratch at home," said Dr Carol Braunschweig, professor of
nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by
Siddharth Cavale and Gayathree Ganesan; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
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