Malnutrition in the elderly: a public health concern

23 January 2020
4 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 2

Malnutrition has been defined as ‘a state of nutrition in which a deficiency or excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effects on tissue/body form (body shape, size and composition) and function and clinical outcome’ (BAPEN, 2018a).

In the UK, about 1.3 million older people are malnourished, equating 11% of the population aged over 65 years (BAPEN, 2018a; Malnutrition Task Force (MTF), 2019).

At the same time, globally more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older are overweight, of which 650 million are obese; in the UK, 64.3% of adults in the UK are affected. The most likely age group affected are people aged between 66 and 74 years (World Health Organization (WHO), 2018; Baker, 2019). In terms of people's health, obesity increases mortality risk, the risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and consequently brings increased costs to the NHS and society as a whole (Public Health England (PHE), 2017a).

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