Malnutrition is a common health problem and it is estimated there are about 3 million people who are malnourished in the UK at any time.
BAPEN estimates that around 30-40% of people admitted to hospitals or care homes in the UK are found to be malnourished/undernourished or at risk of malnourishment/undernutition.
Malnutrition is caused by either an inadequate diet, poor appetite or a problem absorbing nutrients from food. There are many reasons why this might happen, including a recent stay in hospital, a long term health condition, lack of mobility, low income, bereavement or social isolation.
The most common sign that you might be at risk of malnutrition is unintentional loss of weight in the last 3-6 months, although other signs can include:
- Weak muscles
- Feeling tired all the time
- Low mood
- An increase in illnesses or infections
If you believe you or someone you care for is at risk of malnutrition you should visit your GP. He/she can check for signs of malnourishment and for any conditions that may cause malnutrition.
How is malnutrition treated?
Depending on the cause and severity of your malnutrition, treatment may be carried out at home or in hospital.
Diet is key and the main treatment for people diagnosed with malnutrition is dietary changes. If you are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished, we recommend that you visit your GP who will refer you to a Dietitian for individual dietary assessment and advice.
To help you check if you are losing too much weight and are at risk of becoming malnourished, BAPEN has developed a simple screening tool you can use along with advice to follow if you are at risk of becoming malnourished.