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Should you be concerned if you lose weight in old age?

Should you be concerned if you lose weight in old age?

One in three people think that it is ‘normal’ to lose weight in old age - but malnutrition experts say you should be alarmed, as it could be a sign of malnutrition or cancer.

10% of people over 65 are thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

Official figures from the Malnutrition Task Force, funded by the Department of Health, show a tripling in patients admitted to hospital with malnutrition. But what is causing the problem, what role do attitudes towards obesity play and how can weighing help? This blog post explains.

‘Becoming undernourished increases significantly with age’

Lesley Carter, who is leading the Task Force, said: “The risk of becoming undernourished increases significantly as people age and it is further complicated by the incorrect assumption within society that losing weight is a normal part of the aging process - when in fact, should actually raise alarm bells.”

Three quarters of people have never worried about themselves or others unintentionally losing weight.

People who are malnourished are twice as likely to visit their GP. They are also likely to end up in hospital more often and for longer periods. Loneliness and bereavement are said to be the main causes.

The obesity effect

The report observed that obesity concerns may mean that people were too slow to worry about unexplained weight loss.

“We all know that obesity causes serious health problems,” Lesley continued, “but there are also serious health consequences for older people who are at the other end of the scale and don’t eat enough.

“We wrongly assume that malnutrition and dehydration belongs to the past, but the reality is that poor nutrition and hydration are often not recognised by older people, families and healthcare professionals.”

What you can do

The Government recommends that patients are weighed each time they visit a GP, so to ensure you are not underweight or have undertaken significant weight loss.

You can also find out if you are underweight, overweight or ‘normal weight’ by plotting yourself against this BMI chart. A chart showing your recommended calorie intake can be found here.

For GPs, the Marsden M-550 is an affordable floor scale which is five times as accurate as traditional mechanical scales. Alternatively, the M-425 features a remote display for discreet weight readings. As well as BMI and weight, you can also calculate Body Surface Area (BSA) on our new entry level medical range, here.

For more information on any of our scales, call 01709 364296 or contact us here.