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Malnutrition in Older Adults in the United States


The scientific literature clearly establishes the relationship between good nutrition and healthy aging. Unfortunately though, a large number of older Americans are at risk for poor nutrition not only because of the aging process but because of poverty, rurality, and/or lack of access to good quality food. Poor nutrition can easily translate into malnutrition, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among older Americans. Malnutrition is not an inevitable side effect of aging, it can be prevented or at least managed. Medical conditions and lifestyle, social and psychological factors all play a role in increasing one’s risk for malnutrition. Prevention of or treatment for malnutrition must be improved to reverse its deleterious effects among older Americans. Despite the availability of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of good nutrition for healing and recovery, there is no consensus for implementing optimal nutrition care with gaps associated with nutrition screening, assessment, intervention, monitoring, and overall care for malnourished and at-risk hospitalized older adults. Moreover, the US government spends $51.3 billion each year to prevent malnutrition in community-dwelling older adults. In 1965, the US Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA), which aims to provide support (including nutrition) services for older Americans. Title III of the OAA (of the seven titles) specifically addresses the delivery of nutrition services, including nutrition education, to older adults. To date, few evidence-based nutrition education programs target this population making it clear that thoroughly tested curricula are needed, especially programs tailored to the culture and context of the older adult and their environment.


  • Older adults
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrition screening
  • Nutrition education
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Social factors
  • Medical conditions
  • Nutrition education
  • Poverty
  • Rurality

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Area Agency on Aging


American Association of Retired Persons


Administration on Aging


Electronic clinical quality measures


Elderly Nutrition Program


Mini nutritional assessment


Mini nutritional assessment, short form


Older Americans Act


Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program


Supplemental poverty measure


United States


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Correspondence to Angela M. Fraser .

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© 2018 Springer International Publishing AG

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Fraser, A.M. (2018). Malnutrition in Older Adults in the United States. In: Preedy, V., Patel, V. (eds) Handbook of Famine, Starvation, and Nutrient Deprivation. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-40007-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-40007-5

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