Information for the public

What causes malnutrition?

An inadequate diet

A healthy balanced diet is important for everyone. But sometimes it is difficult to maintain. For example, if you are depressed you may not feel like eating. Or if you are unwell, eating or swallowing food might be difficult.

You may have an inadequate diet for other reasons. Perhaps you have problems getting to the shops to buy food, or you are unable to prepare or cook food.

Nutrients are not absorbed

If your stomach or intestine is not working properly, all the nutrients in your food and drink might not be absorbed by the body. This can make you malnourished. Another cause of malnourishment is the loss of nutrients. For example, if you are being sick or you have diarrhoea, your bod won't be able to absorb all the nutrients in your food and you can become malnourished.

Your needs change

If you are ill, you may need different nutrients, or more nutrients, than normal to help you get better. Without a change in your diet you could become malnourished.