Small fluctuations in body weight are among the normal changes that occur over the course of life and are caused by an imbalance in the energy balance: our weight, in fact, varies according to the difference between the energy we introduce with food and of how much we disperse through physical activity and the work that our body constantly does to keep all biological functions active.
If the calories we introduce with the diet exceed those consumed, the weight will tend to increase, vice versa it will decrease. A small weight loss should therefore not worry excessively and, for this to be noteworthy, it should meet some specific characteristics: we talk about unintentional weight loss whenever you are faced with a loss.
- more than 4.5 kg or 5% of the initial body weight,
- over a period of 6-12 months
- and in the absence of a controlled dietary regimen.
It is important to promptly identify these situations, which could be the consequence of a severe or chronic illness (and it has been observed that, especially in the elderly, it is associated with worse general health conditions). This disorder seems to affect above all the geriatric population and in particular the frail elderly, who are compromised on several functional levels, in which it occurs with a frequency of 27%.
In general, body weight reaches a maximum around the sixth decade of life, remains stable until the age of 80, and then gradually decreases. This weight loss is due to several factors: First of all, there is a decrease in lean body mass and less physical activity takes place, this leads to a decrease in the daily calorie requirement and therefore a decrease in food intake.
The sense of hunger also tends to decrease due to the decrease in taste and smell perception that make food less tempting. Other problems that can limit food intake include
reduced chewing capacity, digestive disorders such as slowed gastric emptying.