Background: An adequate caloric intake is a major determinant for the health status
especially when degenerative conditions become a predominant risk for difficult-to-treat
diseases as in aging.
Methods: A structured search of literature on the major databases was performed using terms as
nutrition, elderly and malnutrition.
Results: According to most referenced articles, it appears to be unquestionable that both organic
and social risk factors [economic hardship, loneliness, institutionalization] are important as
determining causes of protein-caloric malnutrition. Some anthropometric, clinical and laboratory
parameters can help to make diagnosis and quantify malnutrition. However, most of them are
not cheap or are not simple to perform especially in the setting of General Practice. The
application of a simple questionnaire [Mini Nutritional Assessment, MNA] allows to obtain in a
fast, easy and non-invasive way a valid assessment of the nutritional status in geriatric patients.
The maintenance of the nutritional status is the best measure to counteract the risk of proteincaloric
malnutrition and its complications which often sneakily affects elderly population and in
particular frail patients.
Conclusion: This review, based on updated concepts, examines all the above mentioned points
together with some aspects associated with malnutrition as an indicator of disease severity and
health costs in the elderly population. Finally, the impact of nutritional intervention and
nutrients supplementation on general indices of malnutrition are discussed as a promising