UK Malnutrition Week 2019: Liver disease and malnutrition

Posted on: 19th October 2019

The British Liver Trust is delighted to support UK Malnutrition Awareness Week (October 14th - 20th) which was founded by BAPEN and the Malnutrition Task Force in 2018 to raise awareness of undernutrition and dehydration in the UK.

Malnutrition is a condition that occurs when a person’s diet doesn't contain the right amount of nutrients.   It can occur if someone does not get enough nutrients in their diet (undernutrition) or getting more than they need (overnutrition).

Across the UK, more than three million are either malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished.

Who is at risk?

Although malnutrition is a condition that is often associated in people’s minds with extreme poverty, disease-related malnutrition is surprisingly widespread in the UK.  Many acute and long-term health conditions, including liver disease, are associated with malnutrition risk.

Diet and liver health

Poor nutrition is common in patients with liver failure, or cirrhosis, and it can lead to muscle wasting, weakness, fatigue, and worse outcomes before and after patients undergo liver transplantation.

Good nutrition can help to support your liver to function and plays a crucial role in your health.  Find out more in our diet and liver disease section.

Malnutrition and cirrhosis 

The damage present in cirrhosis stops the liver working properly and affects its ability to store and release glycogen, a chemical which is used to provide energy when you need it. When this happens, the body uses its own muscle tissue to provide energy between meals. This can lead to malnutrition, muscle wasting and weakness. Around two in ten (20%) people with compensated cirrhosis and six to nine people out of ten (60 - 90%) with decompensated cirrhosis, will become malnourished as their disease progresses.

In our cirrhosis and advanced liver disease section, you will be able to to find out about what changes you need to make to your diet to reduce your risk of malnutrition.

Read more about Malnutrition Awareness Week 2019 here.