The prevalence of malnutrition on medical wards of the University Teaching Hospital
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Malnutrition is one of the most common associated clinical presentations of patients admitted to the medical wards at the UTH with various medical conditions. It may be a predisposing factor to the disease condition or may be the result of the underlying disease process. Whatever the reason might be, the consequences of malnutrition are an increased predisposition to disease and hospitalization, with increased loss of man hours at work place resulting in reduced productivity or contribution to the socioeconomic state of the country.A cross sectional study was carried out at the UTH to determine the prevalence of malnutrition among patients admitted to the medical wards in relation to their anthropometric measurements, income, gender and dietary characteristics.288 patients completed a full clinical evaluation on admission over a period of 6 months. Anthropometric measurements done were Weight, Height, Mid-arm circumference. Triceps skin fold and the BMI was calculated. Dietary and income characteristics, the effect of gender, HIV infection and the impact of other co-existing diseases were assessed.The study was able to show that the majority of patients had a BMI of less than 20 and that the commonest associated or underlying disease was pulmonary tuberculosis followed by HIV infection. Malnutrition was also common in patients in low income groups especially those earning below K200, 000. It was shown that gender did not predispose patients to the development of the malnourished state. The diet of the patients did not have a significant role on malnutrition, implying that low income and the underlying or associated disease condition were the important contributors or risk factors in the development of malnutrition.