Consequences of malnutrition

Malnutrition can have dire consequences for an older person’s health”

–  Royal Commission into Aged Care Interim Report

20-65% of aged care residents are malnourished, and nearly 75% are at risk of malnourishment.

More than muscle

Loss of muscle mass and strength bear the brunt of poor nutrition, leading to frailty and sarcopenia, an age-related disease of accelerated muscle wasting that increases risk of falls and fractures, a prevalent problem that can spiral out of control with related complications.

Muscle mass comprises more than half of overall body tissue and its loss impacts not only physical strength and mobility but also muscles used by the lungs to breathe and by the heart to keep beating, escalating poor health and mortality. Low muscle mass has also been linked to other problems including increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

An unintentional loss of 15% body weight causes steep declines in muscle strength and lung function. If the loss reaches 23% this results in a further staggering 70% decrease in physical fitness, along with loss of muscle strength and increased depression risk.

These put a large strain on independence and quality of life, and the resulting fatigue and apathy create a vicious cycle, delaying recovery and exacerbating appetite loss.

Malnutrition also compromises the body’s immune system, increasing risk of infection and disease, delaying wound healing, causing complications and impeding general recovery. This results in being confined to bed for longer which also compounds the risk of pressure ulcers.


Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.

Download your free report HERE

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