Malnutrition In Adults And Children

  • Created by: TeamDXB
  • Created on: 20-03-19 11:57

The main symptom of malnutrition (undernutrition) is unintended weight loss, although this isn't always obvious.

Weight loss

Most people who are malnourished will lose weight, but it is possible to be a healthy weight or even overweight and still be malnourished.

Someone could be malnourished if:

they unintentionally lose 5-10% of their body weight within three to six months

their body mass index (BMI) is under 18.5 (although a person with a BMI under 20 could also be at risk) – use the BMI calculator to work out your BMI

clothes, belts and jewellery seem to become looser over time

Other symptoms

Other signs of malnutrition include:

reduced appetite

lack of interest in food and drinks

feeling tired all the time

feeling weaker

getting ill often and taking a long time to recover

wounds taking a long time to heal

poor concentration

feeling cold most of the time

low mood or depression

Symptoms in children

Symptoms of malnutrition in a child can include:

not growing at the expected rate or not putting on weight as would normally be expected (faltering growth)

changes in behaviour, such as being unusually irritable, slow or anxious

low energy levels and tiring more easily than other children

Health conditions

Some conditions that can lead to malnutrition include:

long-term conditions that cause loss of appetite, feeling sick, vomiting and/or changes in bowel habit (such as diarrhoea) – these include cancer, liver disease and some lung conditions (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

mental health conditions, such as depression or schizophrenia, which may affect your mood and desire to eat

conditions that disrupt your ability to digest food or absorb nutrients, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis


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