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Frailty & Disease Related Malnutrition

Lots of different factors can contribute to malnutrition. Some conditions (such as COPD and dysphagia) can make it difficult to eat and get enough nutrients. This can lead to disease related malnutrition, a condition that develops when a person’s diet doesn’t give them the right amount of energy (calories), protein and other nutrients3.

Poor appetite, taking lots of medications, and motor dysfunction are just a few contributing factors to malnutrition, which can affect people of all ages. If someone is malnourished, they’re likely to be less active, to use more medication, have more falls, to need more care and to be at greater risk of pressure ulcers if spending long periods in bed2,4.

It’s much harder for a malnourished person to fight off infections or minor illnesses than it is for a well nourished person. Good nutrition can help prevent complications arising from seemingly small health problems, and helps people stay strong and healthy1.

Nutrition support can reduce hospital readmissions1,2

The power of nutrition

A healthcare professional may recommend oral nutritional supplements as a way of managing disease related malnutrition. Oral nutrition supplements may have many benefits including providing additional energy and nutrients that can help prevent muscle wasting which may reduce falls, improve day to day activity levels and may help reduce readmissions to hospital2,4.

Malnutrition can lead to complications from minor diseases1


  1. Stratton RJ et al. Disease-related malnutrition: an evidence based approach to treatment. Wallingford: CABI Publishing; 2003.
  2. Elia M et al. The cost of disease-related malnutrition in the UK and economic considerations for the use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) in adults. Redditch: BAPEN; 2005
  3. http://www.bapen.org.uk/malnutrition-undernutrition/introduction-to-malnutrition. Accessed March 27, 2017.
  4. Gandy J, Eds. Manual of Dietetic Practice. 5th ed. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2014

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