Introduction to Malnutrition
- Last Updated: 22 February 2016
What is malnutrition?
Malnutrition is a state of nutrition in which a deficiency or excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effects on tissue / body form (body shape, size and composition) and function and clinical outcome. The term malnutrition does include obesity, however BAPEN is focussed on the problem of “undernutrition”. The term “malnutrition” is used on this website to mean “undernutrition”. For further information on obesity please go to NHS Choices website
What are the symptoms of malnutrition?
Malnutrition can often be very difficult to recognise, particularly in patients who are overweight or obese to start with. Malnutrition can happen very gradually, which can make it very difficult to spot in the early stages. Some of the symptoms and signs to watch out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss – clothes, rings, jewellery, dentures may become loose
- Tiredness, loss of energy
- Reduced ability to perform normal tasks
- Reduced physical performance – for example, not being able to walk as far or as fast as usual
- Altered mood – malnutrition can be associated with lethargy and depression
- Poor concentration
- Poor growth in children
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