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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 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: There are many malnutrition risk factors that put them at 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

In children:

  • About 1 in 3 children admitted to an Alberta hospital are malnourished.
  • Children who are well nourished on admission may become malnourished in hospital.
  • Malnourished children stay about 3 days longer in hospital and have higher risk for infection.

In adults:

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

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.

Take action using Tools to Address Malnutrition.

Healthy Eating at Child Care Centres