Appropriate Tests


Review clinical features including dietary history, history of weight loss, physical findings suggestive of underlying disease.

If weight loss is severe and/or prolonged, further assessment may be appropriate. Full blood count, Blood film; Ferritin, Folate if indicated on blood film, see Anaemia ; INR (International normalised ratio), Sodium, Potassium, Protein, Albumin, Glucose, Urea, Calcium, Phosphate, Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, Cholesterol, Triglycerides may assist in the assessment of severe malnutrition. Vitamin D (25-hydroxy); Vitamin A.

See also Iron deficiency, Folate deficiency, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Vitamin K deficiency.

Poor dietary intake

  • Inappropriate diet
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Alcoholism
  • Debilitating illness


Upper gastrointestinal disorders


Oesophageal obstruction

  • Carcinoma
  • Stricture


Intestinal disorders

  • Diarrhoea
  • Malabsorption
  • Protein-losing enteropathy
Biopsy if indicated

High energy demands

  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Burns
  • Sepsis
  • Malignancy
  • Hyperthyroidism



See Septicaemia

Renal failure - chronic


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