Experts provide new definitions for malnutrition

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An international panel of nutrition experts has released new and universally applicable definitions of malnutrition to help researchers, clinicians and healthcare workers identify and treat malnutrition.

The development of the new definitions was in response to a lack of generally agreed upon terms for varying forms and causes of malnutrition, according to the science and healthcare journal publisher Elsevier. Adult malnutrition can now be classified in one of three categories: starvation-related, chronic disease-related or acute disease/injury-related. Despite the simplicity of the categories, they are inclusive of the major causes of malnutrition. A 2000 study from the Commonwealth Fund found that, depending on the subgroup, between 35% and 85% of nursing home residents can be considered malnourished. 

The experts who contributed to the new guidelines include members of both ESPEN (the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism) and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN). The new definitions are being dually published in the journals Clinical Nutrition and JPEN, the official journals of ESPEN and ASPEN, respectively.