Interaction between malnutrition and physical disability in older adults: is there a malnutrition-disability cycle?

Peer-reviewed article
(2023 Jan) Nutr Rev, 81 191-205


Nishioka S, Wakabayashi H


Malnutrition and physical disability are urgent issues in super-aging societies and the 2 phenomena are closely linked in older adults. Both conditions have common underlying causes, including physiological changes due to aging and burdens imposed by disease or injury. Accordingly, a concept of the malnutrition-disability cycle was generated and a comprehensive literature search was performed. There was insufficient evidence to prove an interrelationship between malnutrition and physical disabilities, because of the study design and poor quality, among other factors. However, some evidence exists for the interaction between low body mass index and swallowing disorders, and the effects of some malnutrition and disability components. This review provides the rationale for this interaction, the concept of a malnutrition-disability cycle is proposed, and the available evidence is critically appraise.