Diagnosis & Tests

To diagnose malnutrition, a healthcare professional will:

  • Do a physical examination
  • Ask you about your diet, eating habits, and ability to do daily activities
  • Check your weight
  • Review your medications because some may cause you to be less hungry or poorly absorb nutrition
  • Give you a nutrition questionnaire
  • Order lab tests
  • Ask questions about memory and mood

A person may have malnutrition if they have:

  • An unplanned weight loss of 10 pounds or more than 5 percent of normal body weight over 6 to 12 months
  • Lost at least 10 percent of their body weight, in the last six months
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI or a measure of body fat) lower than 17 percent, which means undernutrition
  • A BMI greater than 30 percent, which means overnutrition and obesity 


Last Updated January 2023

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