What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition is a condition that happens when people do not get enough nutrition from the food they eat. This may result from a poor appetite, or a disease that requires more nutrients than their bodies are taking in.

Malnutrition can affect the health of Albertans

Malnutrition leads to a decline in health and strength – it reduces the ability to do things on our own, such as walking, dressing, and bathing.

About 1 in 2 adult Albertans come to hospital already malnourished. Malnourished patients take longer to recover from illness and have a higher risk of infection.

Malnutrition can affect people of all ages, of all body sizes, and in all care settings. People with some or all of the following can be at a higher risk:

Medical factors

  • Poor appetite
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Dental problems
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Physical disability, such as arthritis or poor mobility
  • Medication side effects
  • Chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s
  • Being in hospital

Lifestyle and social factors

  • Lack of knowledge about food, cooking, and nutrition
  • Loneliness
  • Poverty
  • Inability to shop or prepare food

Psychological factors

  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Anxiety

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is at risk of malnutrition, talk to your doctor or dietitian.

What can we do about malnutrition?

Everyone has a role in addressing malnutrition, whether you are a patient, health-care provider, family member or care partner for someone who may be at risk. Often, small changes in daily habits can make a big impact on how well a person eats.
Below are some tools to address malnutrition:

Mini Posters

Highlights the benefits of good nutrition, and provides simple tips to eat well. Talk to your team about how best to use these mini posters at your site.

Tip Sheets

Provides tips to improve nutrition. Talk to your team about how best to use these tip sheets at your site.

As our webpage continues to grow, you will be able to find more resources on malnutrition.

Healthy Eating at Child Care Centres