Kelly Springstroh

Mentor: Dr. Wendy Dahl
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 
"Research is an entity that I have wanted to to be a part of since my freshman year, coming to the University of Florida. After beginning an orientation class for the CALS Honors program, I sought out a lab to get involved with (as it was a part of the curriculum). After searching for potential mentors who had experience with dietetics work, I cam across Dr. Dahl's lab with past projects involving both GI and geriatric work. I wanted to get the experience of being a part of a team and work towards a big goal, and I have enjoyed my time with my lab very much."

Major

Dietetics

Minor

Mass Communications

Research Interests

  • Geriatric Nutrition
  • Gastrointestinal Health
  • Integrative and Functional Medicine

Academic Awards

  • CALS Scholarship 2013-2014
  • Billy Matthews Scholarship 2013
  • University Scholars 2014-2015

Organizations

  • CRU at UF

Volunteer

  • IFAS Extension- ENAFS Program
  • Food Science and Human Nutrition Lab- Dr. Dahl
  • Cooking Classes at VA Hospital

Hobbies and Interests

  • Salsa Dancing
  • Road Trips
  • Going to the Beach

Research Description

Validation of Handgrip Strength as a Malnutrition Screening Tool for Congregate Meal Site Participants
Older adults are more at risk for inadequate nutritional status and frailty. Many factors can attribute to this including access to nutritious foods. Congregate meal sites are federally funded programs that serve daily meals to community-dwelling older adults over the age of 60. It is expected that the meals offered are about one-third of the RDA requirements for older adults. Handgrip strength tests have been used to assess frailty in older adults, as well as nutritional status. Although this tool is recommended for screening malnutrition risk by ASPEN (American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition), limited research has been carried out assessing its validity in the community. A Canadian assessment tool, SCREEN, is a questionnaire that examines isolation, cooking and shopping methods, financial status, and any illnesses or medications that may impact nutritional status. It uses these factors to screen for malnutrition, weakened immunity, and reduced strength. The scores that participants get on their SCREEN questionnaire place them into low, moderate, and high risk categories. It is not known if handgrip strength and SCREEN are equally effective in screening for nutritional risk. The population to be studied will be those who are 60 years or older and participate in the congregate meal sites in Marion county at least once a week. The research to be conducted will compare the validated SCREEN tool, an effective predictor of risk for malnutrition in older adults, to handgrip strength, as well as associations with frequency of attendance at congregate meal sites.  The hypothesis is that handgrip strength will be a reliable indicator of malnutrition risk in the community-dwelling elderly. It is quite possible that associations and observations will be made that were not originally hypothesized. The main goal, however, is to evaluate nutritional and frailty status, frequency of attendance at the meal site, and handgrip strength’s effectiveness as a way of nutritional screening. It is expected that those who are at high risk for malnutrition will not only have low frailty scores (handgrip test) but also have limited access to proper food intake. This could reflect on their attendance at the meal site.