Interview with a health expert on the subject of malnutrition

Professor Marc Bonnefoy – Head of Geriatrics at Lyon Sud hospital

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition is a widespread, serious affliction which affects a person’s general state of health and, in the long-term, leads to a loss of autonomy. In France, some 4% of elderly people who live at home and over 40% of those in residential care, suffer from malnutrition.

The problem has a range of sources, such as chronic illness (kidney, heart or respiratory disease or cancer), neurocognitive or thymus-related disorders such as depression, neurodegenerative illness, problems with swallowing, an endocrine disorder etc. Whatever the origin, the consequences are the same: weight loss, muscle dystrophy, loss of movement, risk of falling and a malfunctioning autoimmune system which increases the risk of infection. Unchecked, the situation can enter a downward spiral.

How can the vicious circle be broken?

The first stage is diagnosis to determine the risk. The earlier the better. The quicker the situation is assessed, the easier it is to provide treatment and avoid a knock-on effect. Next, the patient’s diet should be adapted, according to the diagnosis.

Pascal Auclair, France Medias.