Background The risk of undernutrition in older adults in the community is high, with clear negative impacts on health and well-being. Nutritional screening is not routine and undernutrition often goes unrecognised. A community-level population public health intervention has the potential to target environments where the risk of undernutrition is highest. A programme has been established locally using the PaperWeight Armband as a simple nutritional screening tool in residents over 65 years, followed by supporting advice and community interventions. We undertook a nested pilot cohort evaluation within the wider programme to assess whether this could impact positively.
Methods Participants found to be at risk of undernutrition in the programme were recruited consecutively. Baseline weight and other descriptors including accommodation and frailty were recorded, and then again at 12 weeks.
Results 83 participants were recruited from a wide variety of community settings, age range 65–99 years; 75% were women. Sixty-seven recruits were followed up for 12-week review. Of these, 54 (81%) had a positive outcome, recording either weight gain (66%) or no weight loss (15%) at 12 weeks. Benefit was seen in all living circumstances but was least evident in the frailest participants.
Conclusion The intervention is associated with positive outcomes, with reduction or stabilisation of nutritional risk in the majority of participants studied. The intervention can be delivered in a wide range of settings and does not require healthcare professions for the screening. Longer and larger studies are now required to study the health, well-being and socioeconomic impacts of the intervention in depth.
- public health
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. Anonymised data can be obtained by reasonable request to the corresponding author.
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