Losing weight in old age is 'not normal' and should be seen as an alarm bell

13 March 2017

The Telegraph has published an article discussing the warning signs and consequences of malnutirtion. A study by the Malnutrition Task Force has shown a tripling in the number of patients admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition over the past decade. Experts have said that losing weight in old age could be an “alarm bell” for malnutrition or cancer, as losing weight is not a normal part of ageing.

Lesley Carter, head of the group, said: "The risk of becoming undernourished increases significantly as people age and it is further complicated by the incorrect assumption within society that losing weight is a normal part of the ageing process, when it fact should actually raise alarm bells.”

Malnourished people are twice as likely to visit their GP, have more frequent trips to hospital and have a longer duration in hospital, researchers have said.

The full article can be read here.

BSNA believes that high quality nutritional care should be at the heart of patient care. We champion the introduction of mandatory routine screening for malnutrition and its risk factors using a relatively simple screening tool such as ‘MUST’, developed by BAPEN. Patients who are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition, should be provided with a care plan that is appropriate for their specific needs; this could include the use of food for special medical purposes, such as oral nutritional supplements (ONS), which are designed to meet the specific nutritional needs of malnourished patients. BSNA calls for ONS to be appropriately prescribed and used when needed and for patients to be regularly reviewed and monitored by a healthcare professional.

For more information on the value that ONS offers to patients see The Value of ONS.

BSNA supports Nutrition and Hydration Week 2017, which is taking place from 13 to 19 March. More information about the campaign can be found on the Nutrition and Hydration Week website or on Twitter: @NHWeek, #NHW2017.