How is “undernutrition” recognised?

The best way to detect malnutrition is by the use of malnutrition screening tools, such as the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’).This tool consists of three parts:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) – this is calculated from an individual’s weight and height. A BMI of less than 18.5kg/m2 suggests a significant risk of malnutrition.
  • A history of recent weight loss that has happened without any intention to lose weight. The unintentional loss of more than 10% of normal body weight in the last 3 -6 months suggests a significant risk of malnutrition.
  • An “acute disease effect” associated with being acutely ill and unable to eat for more than five days.

This tool assesses patients as being at low, medium or high risk of malnutrition and guides the user to develop individualised care plans for treatment if required and further monitoring.

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