BACKGROUND: Integrated health promotion improves clinical outcomes after hospital treatment. The first step towards implementing evidence-based health promotion in hospitals is to estimate the need for health promoting activities directed at hospital patients. The aim of this study was to identify the distribution and association of individual health risk factors in a Norwegian hospital population and to estimate the need for health promotion in this population. METHODS: We used a validated documentation model (HPH-DATA Model) to identify the prevalence of patients with nutritional risk (measurements of waist and weight), self-reported physical inactivity, daily smoking and hazardous drinking. We used logistic regression to describe the associations between health risk factors and demographic characteristics. RESULTS: Out of 10 included patients, 9 (N¿=¿1522) had one or more health risk factors. In total 68% (N¿=¿1026) were overweight, 44% (N¿=¿660) at risk of under-nutrition, 38% (N¿=¿574) physically inactive, 19% (N¿=¿293) were daily smokers and 4% (N¿=¿54) hazardous drinkers. We identified a new clinical relevant association between under-nutrition and smoking. The association between hazardous drinking and smoking was sustained. CONCLUSION: Nearly all patients included in this study had one or more health risk factors that could aggravate clinical outcomes. There is a significant need, and potential, for health-promoting interventions. Multi-factorial interventions may be frequently indicated and should be the subject of interventional studies.