Medical Physical and Functional Problems

Many chronic medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, depression, and diabetes have nutritional consequences. Loss of body water, lean body mass, and bone mass; decline of the immune response; over- and underweight; malnutrition; and declining taste, smell, and thirst are among the problems that affect physical strength, functional ability, and vitality. At times, specialized diets or medical nutrition therapy are needed; these are

Many elderly people live alone and may have less nutritious diets than those living with a partner. Programs such as Meals On Wheels can help prevent poor nutrition caused by loneliness. [Photo by Ken Hammond. © USDA Photography Center.]

best planned with a registered dietitian. In addition, medications can affect the absorption and use of nutrients. Lists of food and drug interactions are absorption: uptake by the digestive tract available from a pharmacist or from a registered dietitian who can coordinate advice about medications with specialized dietary information. see also Dietary Reference Intakes; Meals On Wheels; Menopause; Nutrient-Drug Interactions; Osteoporosis; Recommended Dietary Allowances.

Sally Weerts


Davis, M. (2000). "Living Arrangements Affect Dietary Quality for U.S. Adults Aged 50 Years and Older: NHANES III 1988-1994." The Journal of Nutrition 130(9): 2256-2264.

Fletcher, R. H. (2002). "Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Applications." Journal of the American Medical Association 287(23): 3127-3129.

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