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Assessing Your Nutrition, Diet & Health: How to Avoid Disease

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  • 0:02 Nutritional Assessment
  • 1:01 Anthropometric Assessment
  • 2:57 Biochemical Assessment
  • 3:33 Clinical Assessment
  • 4:17 Dietary Assessment
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

A nutritional assessment is used to determine the nutritional status of a person or group of people. Learn about the ABCDs of nutritional assessment: anthropometric assessment, biochemical assessment, clinical assessment and dietary assessment.

Nutritional Assessment

If you sit down at a coffee shop and people-watch for a while you'll quickly notice that people come in many different shapes and sizes. Yet, observing someone from a distance does not reveal much about their diet and overall health. When we really want to know the condition of the human body, we use a process called nutritional assessment, which is the evaluation of data to determine the nutritional status of a person or group of people. The tools of the nutritional assessment take into consideration body composition, body chemistry, physical status and food intake to piece together a picture of an individual or group. The purposes of nutritional assessment include identification of people at risk of malnutrition and development of a health care plan to optimize health and avoid disease. In this lesson we'll take a look at the elements that go into a nutritional assessment, or as health professions call them, 'The ABCD's of Nutritional Assessment'.

Anthropometric Assessment

The 'A' stands for anthropometric assessment. This is a big word, but it's easily defined if you break it down. For instance, the prefix 'anthropo' refers to human, and the suffix 'metric' refers to measurement, so we can define anthropometric assessment as the measurement of the human body. Specifically we are looking at the body height, weight and proportions. By evaluating these factors we can determine if an adult is overweight or underweight for their height, giving us clues to their risk of disease.

Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of the weight-to-height ratio. It is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. A BMI of 30 or greater indicates obesity and this has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Another anthropometric measurement is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). This term pretty much defines what it is; simply stated, it's a measurement of the size of your waist divided by the size of your hips. This is a quick, easy and fairly reliable way to predict your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Basically, your health risks go up with your ratio. For instance, if you're a woman with a waist that measures 29 inches at the level of your belly button and 38 inches at the widest point of your hips, then your waist-to-hip ratio would be 0.76. This would keep you in the lower risk category for a woman, because we see that a high risk WHR > 0.80 for women. For men, the dividing line comes at a ratio of 0.95, so we see that a high risk WHR > 0.95 for men.

Biochemical Assessment

The 'B' of the ABCD's of nutritional assessment stands for biochemical assessment. This involves laboratory tests such as blood and urine tests. Biochemistry is the study of the chemical makeup of your body, and since these chemicals move through your bloodstream and exit through your urine, blood and urine tests are good indicators of your nutritional status. In fact, these lab tests can pick up abnormalities in the body's metabolism and nutrient levels on the inside, long before they're present as symptoms on the outside.

Clinical Assessment

The 'C' stands for clinical assessment, which you might think of as a physical exam. With the clinical assessment, a health professional is looking for physical clues of nutritional health problems. These clues may be seen or felt in superficial body tissues, such as the skin, eyes, hair, nails, mouth and gums. These tissues are capable of revealing nutritional deficiencies. For example, if a person's hair is easily pulled out, it could be a clue that protein is deficient. If a person's nails are thin and indented like a spoon, it could be a clue that there's an iron deficiency. And bleeding gums or a sore mouth may be clues that certain vitamins are deficient.

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