Skip to main content
Malnutrition in the elderly: A narrative review
Maturitas (2013)
  • Ekta Agarwal, The University of Queensland
  • Michelle Miller, Flinders University
  • Alison Yaxley, Flinders University
  • Elisabeth Isenring, University of Queensland
The focus of nutrition is often on healthy diets and exercise to minimise the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, during the shift into older years often the nutrition priorities change towards meeting increased nutrient needs with less energy requirements, and minimising lean muscle loss. There are several causes of general malnutrition in the elderly that lead to depletion of muscle including starvation (protein-energy malnutrition), sarcopenia and cachexia. The prevalence of protein-energy malnutrition increases with age and the number of comorbidities. A range of simple and validated screening tools can be used to identify malnutrition in older adults, e.g. MST, MNA-SF and ‘MUST’. Older adults should be screened for nutritional issues at diagnosis, on admission to hospitals or care homes and during follow up at outpatient or General Practitioner clinics, at regular intervals depending on clinical status. Early identification and treatment of nutrition problems can lead to improved outcomes and better quality of life.
  • Protein-energy malnutrition,
  • elderly,
  • sarcopenia,
  • cachexia,
  • prevalence,
  • nutritional management
Publication Date
December, 2013
Publisher Statement
Accepted version

Agarwal, E., Miller, M., Yaxley, A., Isenring, E. (2013). Malnutrition in the elderly: A narrative review. Maturitas, 76 (4), 296-302.

Access the journal

Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Citation Information
Ekta Agarwal, Michelle Miller, Alison Yaxley and Elisabeth Isenring. "Malnutrition in the elderly: A narrative review" Maturitas Vol. 76 Iss. 4 (2013) p. 296 - 302 ISSN: 0378-5122
Available at: