Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Nutritional assessment: its role in the provision of nutritional support
  1. W J Marshall
  1. William J Marshall, The London Clinic, 20 Devonshire Place, London W1G 6BW, UK; 1wjmarshall{at}


Generalised undernutrition is common in hospital patients and in the community. It is frequently unrecognised and is associated with a range of adverse consequences that contribute to increased morbidity and mortality. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that all individuals engaging with healthcare or admitted to residential homes in the community should be screened for undernutrition. Laboratory investigations have little place in the diagnosis of undernutrition: this is primarily a clinical process. In particular, the measurement of serum albumin concentration, though widely promulgated in the past as an index of nutritional status, is worthless for this purpose. Laboratory investigations are, however, of importance: to diagnose specific nutritional deficiencies (eg, of trace elements) and to monitor the provision of nutritional support, to detect metabolic complications and to assess its adequacy (for which the measurement of serum prealbumin concentrations, particularly in conjunction with measurements of C-reactive protein, may be of value).

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None.