Malnutrition Awareness week is October 4-8th, but what does this mean in Canada? The word ‘malnutrition’ seems like a problem most encountered in low-income countries. It may be surprising to hear that 20-45% of patients admitted to Canadian hospitals are malnourished. When compared to individuals who aren’t malnourished, individuals who are malnourished tend to stay in the hospital longer, are more likely to be re-admitted to hospitals after being discharged and are at a higher risk of death. Why? Because nutrition matters.
Did you know that 1 in 3 seniors have difficulty meeting their nutritional needs? There could be a lot of factors that might contribute to that but here are a few to consider:
- Difficulty accessing groceries or preparing meals
- Having poor appetite or unintentional weight loss
- Loss of taste or smell, or perhaps shortness of breath – all of which can be connected to a diagnosis of COVID-19
- Eating alone
- Struggling with depression or anxiety or dementia
Anyone can be malnourished; individuals living in smaller bodies or in larger bodies.
If you answer yes to these two questions, you might be at risk of malnutrition:
- Have you had unintentional weight loss in the last 6 months?
- Has your appetite been less than usual in the last 7 days?
What can be done?
- Choose nutrient dense foods more often (think real food). Visit Canada’s Food Guide.
- Eat at regular intervals
- If you have poor appetite, try eating smaller portions more often – Reach out to local food supports to increase your access to food.
- If you require extra support, contact your local Registered Dietitian for FREE personalized nutrition support: call 403-675-3000
- Curtis LJ et al. Costs of hospital malnutrition. Clin Nutr 2016; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2016.09.009. In adult patients admitted to medical or surgical units for ≥ 2 days.
- Lim SL et al. Clin Nutr 2012; 31: 345-50.
- Felder S et al. Nutrition 2015; 31:1385-93.
- Canadian Nutrition Screening Tool. Accessed on Sept 16, 2021 from CNST.pdf (nutritioncareincanada.ca)
- Howatson, Alexandra & Wall, Clare & Turner-Benny, Petrina. (2015). The contribution of dietitians to the primary health care workforce. Journal of Primary Health Care. 7. 324-332. 10.1071/HC15324.