Malnutrition Awareness
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Malnutrition can happen to anyone, at any body size. North Hawai’i Community Hospital is joining ASPEN (American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition) to help bring awareness to the community about the dangers of malnourishment.

Anyone can become malnourished over time if not enough of the right foods, especially protein, or enough calories are eaten to meet the body’s needs. Malnutrition can have a serious impact on health.

  • Malnutrition shrinks muscles, which makes it harder to walk, function and stay independent.
  • Malnutrition weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off illness and infections.
  • Malnutrition impairs wound healing.


Malnutrition may be over-nutrition (too much food) or under-nutrition (not enough food). Over-nutrition leads to obesity and other diseases while undernutrition leads to poor growth and development.  Undernutrition can be the result of inadequate dietary intake, or exposure to infectious diseases.


Who is at risk of malnutrition?

  • Anyone, at any weight, who doesn’t eat enough protein, calories or nutrients to meet the body’s needs.
  • Adults with a body mass index under 20 (under 65 years) or under 23 (over 65 years).  Find out what your BMI is at
  • Anyone, whether underweight or obese, who is going through a serious illness, surgery or trauma.
  • People on rapid-weight-loss diets


Talk to your health care provider if you or a loved one has any of the following symptoms:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Underweight (BMI less than 20 or under 23 if over 65 years)
  • Poor appetite or trouble finishing meals
  • Difficulty keeping warm
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Irritability or poor concentration
  • Loss of interest in food and/or activities
  • Difficulty healing or pressure ulcers


Prevent malnutrition:

  • Eat to meet your body’s needs.
  • Eat from all of the food groups: protein, dairy, vegetables, grains and fruits.
  • Eat 3 to 4 ounces of protein at every meal to build and repair your muscles.
  • Use the Super Tracker and other tools at to help you plan your meals.


If you have questions about what to eat, how to eat or whether you are eating enough, talk to your health care provider.  If you need a health care provider, call 887-CARE.