Adult and Senior Malnutrition

08/21/2018 - Malnutrition is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, especially among older adults. Up to one in two adults age 65 and older and as many as 39% of older adult patients may be malnourished or at-risk. Additionally, up to 31% of malnourished patients and 38% of well-nourished patients experience nutritional decline during their hospital stay. Changes commonly associated with aging such as loss of appetite, limited ability to chew or swallow and use of multiple medications place older adults at a higher risk for developing malnutrition.

Did you know?

  • The economic burden of disease-associated malnutrition is $51.3 billion for seniors.
  • Half of all adults 65 and older may be malnourished or at risk for malnutrition.
  • Malnourished adults are 5 times more likely to die during a hospitalization and 54% more likely to be readmitted.

Recognizing the domestic and global impact of malnutrition and the role Academy members can play in preventing and treating malnutrition, the Academy began advocating for quality measures that would bring malnutrition to the forefront of health care. The Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative, or MQii, is a flagship program for the Academy along with partners Avalere and Abbott which is changing the way malnutrition is perceived and addresses malnutrition across the U.S. Read more about this ground-breaking project in the September issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The MQii Toolkit provides additional resources for implementing quality measures.

In addition, Academy dietetic practice groups are helping Academy members with resources and practice tips to recognize and treat malnutrition, including Clinical Nutrition Management, Dietetics in Health Care Communities, Oncology Nutrition, Dietitians in Nutrition Support, and Healthy Aging, among others.

Advance Malnutrition Care at Your Organization

Are You Interested in Advancing Malnutrition Care at Your Organization? The Academy and Avalere Health are enrolling participants for the 2018 MQii Learning Collaborative, and invite you to join in advancing malnutrition care. This collaborative brings together leading hospitals and health systems across the U.S. to support acceleration and dissemination of malnutrition best practices for hospitalized patients. Participants undertake a data‐driven, patient‐centered, malnutrition quality improvement project at their respective hospitals using a best practices toolkit, and can use clinically-meaningful measures to track and monitor improvement. Learning Collaborative participation and all included resources are free. Interested hospitals and health systems, please email

National Dialogue

In March 2018, a multi-stakeholder group of health and community leaders and advocates came together for a National Dialogue on advancing care coordination co-hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Avalere Health and Defeat Malnutrition Today coalition. The Dialogue Proceedings,"Advancing Patient-Centered Malnutrition Care Transitions," published in July 2018, includes an infographic demonstrating that it is equally important for providers, patients, family and caregivers, policymakers, payers and others to collaborate on opportunities for integrating optimal nutrition care into national quality and care coordination models and programs.

Looking for More Research?

Academy Foundation Heroes

Visit the Foundation's website to read more about members who have made significant contributions in the area of senior and adult malnutrition throughout their career.