Malnutrition is a very common condition associated with “getting old” and “appetite loss”. However, these thoughts don’t capture the true essence of the condition, nor do they lean into the fact that malnutrition can impact any person across the lifespan. We need to shift the idea that malnutrition is a normal process of aging, and instead focus on causes, prevention and management. So, to celebrate Malnutrition awareness week, we will be focusing on the causes of malnutrition, who is at risk and how to effectively treat it!
What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition is a serious medical condition, characterised by unintentional weight loss leading to detrimental physical and mental health outcomes. Some of these outcomes include hair loss, wounds not healing, low mood, brittle bones and a poor immune system. Malnutrition is commonly developed due to a person not meeting their energy requirements, following a poor-quality diet, or the body not being able to absorb all of the essential nutrients.
Who is at risk?
- The elderly
- Those with an eating disorder
- Athletes that participate in sports with a major focus on weight e.g., gymnastics,diving, ballet and bodybuilders
- Those who have a condition impacting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients
What are the symptoms of malnutrition?
- Unintentional weight loss (>5% of total body weight)
- Reduced appetite and/or a lack of interest in food
- Chronic fatigue
- Feeling weak
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Getting sick often
It is best to seek treatment from a registered dietitian, as they will be able to conduct a comprehensive nutrition analysis and diagnosis. From here, treatment options will vary and will depend on an individual’s functional capacity and the resources available. For instance, a younger individual may need to fortify certain foods and beverages, whereas an elderly person may need to commence oral nutrition supplementation.
When it comes to malnutrition, it’s important to act quickly. It’s a very treatable condition when managed under the directive of a dietitian. A strong support network can also assist with malnutrition recovery and may include family members, friends or carers. To be screened for malnutrition, or to discuss management strategies, book a consultation with our dietitian, Annabel. Please give us a call on 13000 800 993.