Healthy diet and weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for helping older people stay active and manage any health problems. The best way to do this is to eat a variety of fresh food and avoid extra helpings. Additionally, exercise is critically important in building muscle mass and maintaining functional strength.

Malnutrition and frailty can increase your risk of falling

Malnutrition has been shown to increase fall risk. Older people who are malnourished or considered to
be at nutritional risk are more likely to be frail. Frailty has also been shown to increase your risk of falling. Furthermore, frail older people are more often overweight or underweight in comparison to non-frail older people. Nutritional interventions aimed at weight gain in underweight older people can reduce frailty and improve walking speed. Therefore, these changes might also reduce your risk of falling, but more research is needed.

Vitamin D and calcium

It is important to eat a balanced diet with adequate calcium and if you don’t spend much time outdoors, vitamin D (please note: it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, most people rely on sun exposure and if deficient supplements). Vitamin D and calcium are important for bone health, deficiencies in either can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is when you lose bone density which causes the bone to be weaker increasing your fracture risk.

Key points to remember
  • Malnutrition can increase your risk of falls
  • Frailty is also a risk factor for falls and is influenced by nutrition
  • Good nutrition is important to assist in managing your risk of frailty and falls
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are important for your bone health: see our Bone Health fact sheet
  • Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration (unless you have been told to restrict your fluid intake)
  • Exercise is also important for your bone health, as well
    as maintaining muscle mass and strength


What can I do right now?
  • Aim to eat a well-balanced diet with good nutritional value and drink plenty of water (unless you have been told by your doctor to restrict your fluid intake)
  • Aim to maintain your BMI within the healthy range
  • If your BMI is not within the healthy range or you are concerned about your weight, nutritional intake or body composition, talk to your doctor or dietician
  • If you are underweight, try to gain weight by eating healthy and nutritious foods – focus on good sources of protein, grains, and healthy fats
  • A dietitian may be able to help you build meals and snacks to help you gain or lose weight

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