1. A nutritional assessment is a process of gathering relevant information to determine one’s nutritional status. The information gathered during the assessment can aid in diagnosing whether a nutrition-related health issue exists and the possible causes or origin of the nutritional issue. There are a few indicators of nutritional status that can be evaluated during a nutritional assessment. However, one should be sure to include five main elements into their nutritional assessment to ensure they are collecting accurate and relevant information in order to begin to consider possible interventions if necessary. According to BAPEN (2018), nutritional assessments should include:
Anthropometry- this enables body composition to be examined. Measurements are taken of the patient’s weight, arm circumference, and skin fold thickness. These measurements allow for calculations of Body Mass Index and percent of weight change. Patient should also be inspected for any signs of recent weight loss such as loose-fitting clothing or loose skin. These objective signs can help determine if there is a risk for malnutrition or if the patient may be in need of nutritional support.
Biochemistry- this includes collection of objective data such as blood lab testing to further assess nutritional status. Some of the testing involves hemoglobin, albumin, HbA1C, sodium, calcium, and vitamin levels. These levels can provide some insight into the patient’s diet and if they are getting enough needed nutrients.
Clinical- this portion of the assessment asks for diseases or conditions the patient may have to be considered. Certain diseases or conditions can impact nutrition in a number of ways. Cancer, COPD, heart failure, and certain mental health disorders can affect appetite or leave patients very little energy to eat. Certain neurological conditions can affect patient’s ability to swallow which can lead to less intake. GI disorders can also affect appetite, cause pain or discomfort after meals, or decrease absorption of certain nutrients.
Dietary- during this portion of the assessment, subjective data is collected from the patient. The patient will be asked questions about their eating habits. Caloric and fluid intake is examined during this stage and the patient should be asked about their usual intake of certain nutrients.
Environment- this portion of the assessment takes a look at social and physical factors. The health care provider should consider the patient’s ability to shop and cook as well as their economic status and budget for food. Some physical factors to be considered are bloating, vomiting, dysphagia, special diet, and food preferences.
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