Managing adult malnutrition

First of all, the objective of the management plan is to increase a person’s energy and protein intake.

Take, for example, a woman of approximatively 60kg. The goal might be to achieve an energy intake of 1,800kcal per day, with at least 72g of protein (30kcal¹ and 1.2g² per kg of body weight per day).

Achieving this goal depends on the severity of the malnutrition and the current food intake.

A health care professional will give dietary recommendations to make a person’s food more nutritious, proposing enriched foods or increased calories and protein using, for example, whole condensed milk (100g = 8g of protein) or eggs (1 egg = 6g of protein)³.

If this is not enough, or in certain other cases, it may be necessary to prescribe Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS), which is a type of Food for Special Medical Purpose (FSMP).

The duration of treatment depends from person to person. That is why it is necessary to carry out frequent reassessments, in some cases even weekly, in order to appropriately monitor the management plan and modify it as necessary. At each reassessment, the supervising health care professional should monitor the person’s weight, food intake, acceptance and tolerance of ONS.

Finally, it is very important to start the management plan as soon as a person’s risk of malnutrition is identified.

For information about relevant international standards, see the ISDI brochure on Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP).

Download the factsheet.

1. Dorothee Volkert, et al. ESPEN guideline on clinical nutrition and hydration in geriatrics, Clin Nutr. 2019 Feb;38(1):10-47. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2018.05.024

2. Deutz NE, Bauer JM, Barazzoni R, et al. Protein intake and exercise for optimal muscle function with aging: recommendations from the ESPEN Expert Group. Clin Nutr. 2014;33(6):929-936. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2014.04.007

3. McCance, R.A. and Widdowson, E.M., 2014. McCance and Widdowson’s the Composition of Foods. Royal Society of Chemistry

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Screening for adult malnutrition

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Oral nutritional supplements