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Open Access Research article

Body composition in older acute stroke patients after treatment with individualized, nutritional supplementation while in hospital

Lisa Ha1*, Truls Hauge2 and Per Ole Iversen34

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Østfold Hospital Trust Fredrikstad, 1603 Fredrikstad, Norway

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, 0407 Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, PO Box 1046 Blindern, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Hematology, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, 0407 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:75  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-75

Published: 18 October 2010



Individualized, nutritional support reduced undernutrition among older stroke patients and improved quality of life in our recent randomized, controlled trial. Weight control thus seems to be important after stroke, and methods for monitoring nutritional status need to be simple and non-invasive. Here we aimed to assess if the nutritional intervention altered body composition in men and women in this study cohort, and also to examine the correlation between the methods for assessing body-, fat- and fat-free mass.


Acute stroke patients > 65 years at nutritional risk were randomized to either individualized, nutritional treatment with energy- and protein rich supplementation (intervention, n = 58) or routine, nutritional care (control, n = 66) while in hospital. Body composition was assessed with anthropometry and bioelectrical impedance. The follow-up period was three months.


During the first week while in hospital, weight loss was smaller in the intervention group compared with the controls (P = 0.013). After three months weight- and fat loss were significant in both men and women. Whereas no significant differences were found in changes in body composition between the male study groups, in the women both weight loss (P = 0.022) and fat loss (P = 0.005) was smaller in the intervention group compared with the controls. A high correlation (r = 0.87) between mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and body mass index (BMI) was found.


Individualized nutritional support to older stroke patients in hospital was beneficial for maintaining an adequate body mass and body composition the first week and seemed to have a preventive effect on fat loss among women, but not among men after three months. Measurement of MUAC may be used in the assessment of nutritional status when BMI cannot be obtained.

Trial registration

This trial is registered with, number NCT00163007.