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February 20, 1943


JAMA. 1943;121(8):584-591. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.62840080005007a

Evaluation of nutritional status is designed primarily to determine whether a person is malnourished. At once this stated aim raises several questions. What is malnutrition? What are its specific manifestations? If it is to be recognized, its characteristics must be known. Which of these should be selected as a basis for detection? Assuredly the methods must be founded on qualities which adequately represent malnutrition.

The very name evaluation of nutritional status indicates that the procedure includes something more than placing a person in either of the two categories: well nourished or malnourished. If malnutrition is found it is also desirable to ascertain its severity. Malnutrition occurs in all degrees. If a sufficiently large number of persons at random were examined by the most sensitive and specific methods, their nutritional condition would form a continuous series from perfection to extreme malnutrition. It is necessary to classify the series into degrees, to