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Adults at risk of poor nutrition

Have you been losing weight without meaning to? Or have you noticed that your clothing or jewellery are looser? If you (or someone you care for) are eating less than usual, you may be at risk of malnutrition. This could be due to a reduced appetite, being unwell, or not being able to go food shopping or prepare meals.
Malnutrition makes it more difficult for the body to fight illness and infection. It can make us feel weak, tired, and low in mood. To treat malnutrition, we need to increase the energy (calories), protein and other nutrients that we eat and drink.

We recommend that people who are at risk of malnutrition try to increase their nutritional intake by having regular snacks, nourishing drinks, and fortifying their food. The following leaflets give tips and advice on how to do this:

Nourishing and fortified drinks

Nourishing drinks can be useful to increase nutrition if you are eating small amounts. It is important to drink enough fluid (8 to 10 cups or glasses a day). Having drinks with additional nutrition such as milky drinks, milkshakes, soups, fruit juice, smoothies, hot chocolate and malted milk drinks can also help increase nutritional intake.

Our homemade fortified drinks leaflet (PDF, 558 KB) has recipes for drinks and desserts to help increase your energy and protein intake.

You can buy a range of fortified drinks from supermarkets and pharmacies (such as Complan, Meritene and Aymes Retail). View the full range of fortified drinks available (PDF, 67 KB).

Meal delivery services

Meal delivery services may be useful for people who have difficulty shopping or preparing food:

Self-screening

You can check your malnutrition risk at home using self-screening tools. They can be a useful starting point. However, please ensure you seek advice from a healthcare professional if you are identified as at risk of malnutrition:

If you are concerned about nutrition, if you have been eating less, been unwell or have noticed unintentional weight loss, please contact your GP or healthcare professional for further advice.

Hydration

As well as good nutrition it is important to ensure you drink enough fluid to stay hydrated.

Dehydration can increase the risk of falls, infections such as urinary tract infections, constipation and cause confusion and tiredness.

Aim to drink 8 to 10 cups or glasses of fluid every day (1,600 ml to 2,000 ml). This may need be increased in hot weather, if you are exercising more, and if you are unwell with a high temperature.

Water, milk, juices, squash, tea, and coffee all count. If you are struggling to eat, enough consider nourishing drinks such as milky drinks, milkshakes, soups, fruit juice, smoothies, hot chocolate and malted milk drinks.

The BDA fluid and food information sheet (PDF, 586 KB) is full of facts about why you should stay hydrated.

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