A.S.P.E.N. Takes Stand to Better Measure the Occurrence of Malnutrition in all Healthcare Settings


New co-published malnutrition consensus paper urges healthcare professionals to define and document malnutrition 

June 1, 2012, Silver Spring, MD – The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) released a malnutrition consensus paper entitled, Consensus Statement: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition: Characteristics Recommended for the Identification and Documentation of Adult Malnutrition (Undernutrition).

A.S.P.E.N. and the Academy recommend that a standardized set of diagnostic characteristics be used to identify and document adult malnutrition in routine clinical practice. Universal use of a single set of diagnostic characteristics will facilitate malnutrition’s recognition, contribute to more valid estimates of its prevalence and incidence, guide interventions, and ultimately prevent death. This standardized approach will also help to more accurately predict the human and financial burdens and costs associated with malnutrition’s prevention and treatment and further ensure the provision of high-quality, cost-effective nutrition care. 

“Malnutrition is a major contributor to decreased function and quality of life,” said Jay Mirtallo, MS, RPh, BCNSP, FASHP, A.S.P.E.N. president. “We believe that by identifying and documenting the occurrence of malnutrition that we will lower healthcare costs, reduce the amount of undernutrition realized and ultimately save lives.” 

Malnutrition is most simply defined as any nutrition imbalance. A.S.P.E.N. and the Academy suggest defining malnutrition for adults in all settings. In the absence of data showing that malnutrition should be defined differently in different settings, A.S.P.E.N. and the Academy have adopted patient-specific definitions based on etiologies including social and environmental circumstances, chronic illness, and acute illness.

The paper, simultaneously published in the May 2012 issues of Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (JPEN) and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, was authored by Jane V. White, PhD, RD, FADA and A.S.P.E.N. leaders Gordon Jensen MD, PhD, FASPEN and Ainsley Malone MS, RD, CNSC, among others. For more information, please contact A.S.P.E.N.’s Senior Director of Clinical Practice, Advocacy, and Research Affairs, Peggi Guenter at [email protected].


The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) is dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the science and practice of nutrition support therapy and metabolism. Founded in 1976, A.S.P.E.N. is an interdisciplinary organization whose members are involved in the provision of clinical nutrition therapies, including parenteral and enteral nutrition. With more than 5,500 members from around the world, A.S.P.E.N. is a community of dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, students and other health professionals from every facet of nutrition support clinical practice, research and education.

For more information about A.S.P.E.N. please visit www.nutritioncare.org.