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Older people tend to naturally reduce their food intake. The reasons are: a reduction in their autonomy and belief in normally reduced needs when aging. Some physiological disorders associated with aging, such as altered digestive functions or metabolic changes increase the risk of malnutrition.

Malnutrition is defined as a lack of energy or any other specific macro-or micronutrient intake by the needs of the body, resulting in a measurable change in function and / or body composition. It is characterized by involuntary weight loss 5 to 10% over the last 6 to 12 months compared to the usual weight or weight of the form of the person. It is mainly caused by inadequate dietary intake, catabolic and / or digestive disorders.

This pathology, not taken in charge, leads to muscle loss, lower immune system and a reduction of autonomy and increased risk of fall.

It is estimated that malnutrition affects 5 to 10% of the general population and about 20% of hospitalized children, 45% of adults and 60% of elderly. People with chronic pathology, eating disorder and dependent elderly people are more vulnerable.

Given the frequency and severity, screening for malnutrition is an important act that must be performed regularly at all ages over 65 years.

Weight loss should lead to a health check. A decrease in BMI (Body Mass Index = weight (kg) / height ² (m²) is also a marker of the onset of malnutrition. The physician may have to test the MNA (Mini Nutritional Assesment), which assesses the risk of malnutrition due to food habits, lifestyle and degree of autonomy.

References :

Stratégie de prise en charge en cas de dénutrition protéino-énergétique chez la personne âgée (2007)

Physiopathologie et conséquences de la dénutrition. JF Zazzo. Rev Prat 2003. 53 :248-253.


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