Aging & Health A to Z
Diagnosis & Tests
If you are worried about malnutrition in a loved one or if you are wondering whether you yourself may not be eating properly, you can look for some specific red flags such as:
- Easy bruising
- Slow healing of wounds
- Problems with your mouth or teeth
- Weight loss or gain.
Weight loss is often easy to spot because clothes suddenly become much looser and do not fit properly. If you are concerned, speak to a healthcare professional. In addition to ruling out depression or dementia, he or she should evaluate your nutritional status by:
- Giving you a physical examination.
- Asking you about your diet and eating habits, and if there have been any changes. Your intake will be compared to the recommended daily intake (RDA) for crucial nutrients.
- Checking your weight or body mass index (BMI). If you’ve lost 10 pounds or more—or 10% of your body weight—unintentionally in the last six months, you may be at risk of malnutrition. A BMI less than 18.5 kg/m2 may mean you are underweight. A BMI of 30 or more means you are overweight)
- Reviewing your medications (prescription and over-the-counter remedies). Many medicines affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Having you fill out a nutrition questionnaire (such as the Mini Nutritional Assessment).
- Ordering certain lab tests.
- Asking about your daily routine and ability to carry out regular functions.
- Asking you memory and mood questions.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012