Main Causes of Disease-Related Malnutrition
Malnutrition Frequency Caused by Various and Diverse Factors
Reduced food and nutrient intake due to disability and disease are the key reasons for disease-related malnutrition. In addition, other factors can cause and exacerbate disease-related malnutrition such as:1,2,3
- Patient-related conditions
- Organizational conditions
- Health care staff-related conditions
Each of these factors can result in a lack of sufficient energy and nutrient intake by the patient.1
Patient-Related Conditions: When Food Intake is Insufficient
Some patients might not eat the recommended amount of food or nutrients due to various reasons leading to malnutrition:4
- Anorexia, taste disturbances, nausea, vomiting, chewing and swallowing difficulties, confusion, depression, medication, treatment-induced side effects such as from chemotherapy or surgical intervention
- An inability to self-feed or the impact of poor dental health
Patients may consume adequate nutrients and still lose weight for reasons including:4
- Impaired nutrient digestion and absorption, particularly in gastrointestinal (GI) diseases
- Increased nutritional requirements resulting from sepsis, trauma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), endocrine disease or cancer
- Increased weight losses resulting from enhanced catabolism, malabsorption, intestinal (fistula) or wound discharge
Other Factors: Staff and Organizational Influences on Disease-Related Malnutrition
Beyond patient-related conditions, malnutrition can also be impacted by health care staff or organizational factors which fail to sufficiently address the problem.
Staff-related issues often include lack of education and training on identifying and treating disease-related malnutrition,2,3 poor documentation, insufficient screening procedures, treatment actions, and follow-up monitoring. On the organizational side, lack of nutrition policy, poor organization of nutrition services, catering limitations and lack of specialist posts can contribute to disease-related malnutrition.1
- 1. a. b. c. Stratton RJ, Green CJ, Elia M. Disease-related malnutrition: an evidence based approach to treatment. Wallingford: CABI Publishing 2003.
- 2. a. b. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2009.
- 3. a. b. Russell C, Elia M. Nutrition screening survey in the UK. Redditch: BAPEN 2003.
- 4. a. b. National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (UK). Nutrition Support for Adults Oral Nutrition Support, Enteral Tube Feeding and Parenteral Nutrition. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 32 London 2006.