Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

Malnutrition in Adults

author image Tammy Dray
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.
Malnutrition in Adults
The elderly are more likely to experience malnutrition problems.

Malnutrition in both children and adults is a serious problem in poor nations around the world. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 925 million people in the world are undernourished. Most of the people who suffer malnutrition live in third-world countries. In the United States, malnutrition is most likely to affect the elderly, rather than children.

Video of the Day


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 3,000 adults die in the U.S. every year from malnutrition. Mortality is more likely in people over 70. Poverty, eating disorders or long convalescences after being ill top the list for malnutrition causes in the U.S.


In the elderly, malnutrition is usually due to digestion and absorption problems, rather than lack of food. Loss of appetite, sometimes connected to illness, also causes them to eat less. When unsupervised and sometimes forced to eat, many can ignore meal times or simply forget to eat. says that many older adults suffer from depression due to the death of a partner, lack of social contact or poor mobility. This can lead to a loss of interest in food and result in malnutrition. Alcoholism also can lead to malnutrition in adults of all ages because it affects appetite and absorption of nutrients.


Symptoms of malnutrition are hard to identify because they’re common signs that can also appear during other illnesses. Severe weight loss can be a sign of malnutrition. Other symptoms to look for include anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness and frequent infections, which can be a sign of a weak immune system.


Once diagnosed as malnourished, the patient's treatment depends on the level of malnutrition. It also depends on whether the person can eat by himself or needs to have assistance with feeding. Intravenous or tube feeding might be options if the person is not eating. Intravenous or parenteral feeding is often a choice for people with stomach or intestine problems who cannot properly absorb nutrients from food. Patients will also need a special diet that contains additional calories to help regain any lost weight.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media