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An Approach to the Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Management of Unintentional Weight Loss Among Older Adults

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Abstract

Unintentional weight loss is common among older adults and is associated with significant adverse health outcomes, increased mortality, and progressive disability. The diagnosis is often associated with an underlying illness; however, in as many as one in four older adults with unintentional weight loss, no obvious medical cause can be identified. A variety of nonpharmacologic interventions may improve energy intake and lead to weight gain. The most common approach to the treatment of weight loss among older adults is consumption of high-energy/protein oral supplements between meals as a means of increasing daily energy intake. Involving other health professionals, including a dietitian, may be helpful in the assessment and management plan. In addition, a number of pharmacologic treatments have been investigated, but the potential benefit of these treatments remains unclear.