Malnutrition is the lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat.






Symptoms of malnutrition include:

  • Breathing difficulties, a higher risk of respiratory failure

  • Depression.

  • Higher susceptibility to feeling cold

  • Longer healing times for wounds

  • Longer recovery times from infections

  • Longer recovery from illnesses

  • Lower sex drive

  • Tiredness, fatigue, or apathy

  • Irritability.

  • Sometimes, severe malnutrition may lead to unresponsiveness (stupor)

  • If calorie deficiency continues for long enough, there may be heart, liver and respiratory failure



  • Poor diet

  • Mental health problem

  • Digestive disorder and stomach conditions

  • Alcoholism

  • Food shortages

  • Food prices and food distribution

  • Lack of breastfeeding

Major risk factors

Anyone can become malnourished if, over a prolonged period of time, they do not consume enough food to fulfil their nutritional needs, or if they have an unhealthy diet. However, the groups who are most at risk from malnutrition are:

  • the elderly.

  • people with low incomes.

  • people with chronic (long-term) disorders - for example, eating disorders

  • people who are recovering from a serious illness, or condition.


The best way to prevent malnutrition is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. You need to eat a variety of foods from the main food groups.


These include:

  • Carbohydrates

  • Fruit and vegetables

  • Protein

  • Dairy - vegans are able to find abundant nutrients from non-animal sources

  • Fats.


1. The average human should drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid per day.

2. Engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes, at least several times a


3. Achieve or maintain the ideal weight.

4. Use alcohol sparingly or avoid it altogether.



Treatment depends on the person’s general health and how severely malnourished they are.

  • The first dietary advice is usually:

  • eating "fortified" foods that are high in calories and protein

  • snacking between meals

  • having drinks that contain lots of calories



Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated June 8, 2017.

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The contents herein are for informational purposes only, therefore, should not be used as an alternative to seeking independent medical advice, and we cannot take responsibility for an individual’s decision to use them as such. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.