Jensen Co-Authors Global Criteria for Diagnosing Malnutrition

September 5, 2018 by Jennifer Nachbur

Although malnutrition is a serious concern associated with adverse outcomes and cost, no single existing approach to malnutrition diagnosis has achieved broad global acceptance. Now, thanks to more than two years’ work by members of the Global Leadership Initiative on Malnutrition (GLIM) working group, a consensus report, which outlines five criteria for malnutrition, has just been published in the latest issue of both the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and Clinical Nutrition.

Gordon Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Research (Photo: UVM Larner College of Medicine)

Adoption of global consensus criteria will allow for comparison of malnutrition prevalence, interventions, and outcomes throughout the world. 

Although malnutrition is a serious concern associated with adverse outcomes and cost, no single existing approach to malnutrition diagnosis has achieved broad global acceptance. Now, thanks to more than two years’ work by members of the Global Leadership Initiative on Malnutrition (GLIM) working group, a consensus report, which outlines five criteria for malnutrition, has just been published in the latest issue of both the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and Clinical Nutrition.

Led by Gordon Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., and Tommy Cederholm, M.D., Ph.D., representing the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), respectively, with collaboration from members of the Latin American Federation for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (FELANPE), and the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Society of Asia (PENSA), the newly-released report is titled  The GLIM Criteria for the Diagnosis of Malnutrition — a Consensus Report from the Global Clinical Nutrition Community.

The report provides a global, consensus scheme for diagnosing malnutrition in adults in clinical settings. The five criteria for malnutrition include involuntary weight loss, low body mass index, and reduced muscle mass as phenotypic (physical) criteria, and reduced food intake/assimilation and inflammation/disease burden as etiologic criteria. It is proposed that the diagnosis of malnutrition be based upon the presence of at least one phenotypic criterion and one etiologic criterion.

The four participating societies endorsed a two-step approach for the diagnosis of malnutrition. First, screening to identify “at risk” status by the use of any validated screening tool, and second, assessment for diagnosis and grading the severity of malnutrition. The GLIM team considered malnutrition criteria that were retrieved from established approaches to diagnosis. Potential criteria were subjected to a ballot among the team. “We brought the international community together to develop consensus criteria for diagnosing malnutrition that are simple and can be readily applied by clinicians and other health practitioners using available tools and methods in their region,” said Jensen, who is senior associate dean for research at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and a professor of medicine and nutrition and food sciences.

“We will seek to secure further collaboration and endorsements from leading nutrition professional societies, and to promote dissemination, validation studies, and feedback to secure future refinements of the diagnosis” said Cederholm, a professor of clinical nutrition and head of Clinical Nutrition & Metabolism in the Department of Public Health & Caring Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden.

(This article was adapted from a press release produced by the Marketing and Communications office at the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.)


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