Weight loss and wasting

Severe weight loss is called wasting syndrome. While wasting has several definitions, the following criteria can be used to diagnose wasting:

  1. Loss of 10% of body weight in 6 months or less OR 
  2. 7.5% loss in 3 months or less OR
  3. 5% loss in 1 month OR
  4. BMI decreases to below 20 OR
  5. Loss of 5% of body cell mass

Unwanted weight loss remains a serious risk for people with HIV because, even small losses of body cell mass can be dangerous. The primary strategy for treating weight loss and wasting is to increase food intake to the level needed to promote weight gain. This is achieved with a high-calorie, high-protein diet anda daily multivitamin-mineral supplement.

Increasing calories and protein

  1.  Eat often, at least 5 to 6 times per day.
  2.  Eat high-calorie and high-protein foods like dairy products, nuts, peanut butter and dried fruits. For example, 1/2 cup of nuts has about 400 calories.
  3.  Drink fluids with calories, such as milk, chocolate milk, soy milk, juices, homemade milk shakes, fortified malted drinks (e.g. Horlick’s, Ovaltine) and meal replacement drinks (e.g. Ensure, Boost, Nutren, Resource).
  4.  Try a calorie supplement like Polycose Powder.
  5.  Eat fats as you can Fats are high in calories but may be hard to digest and can raise blood cholesterol levels.
  6.  Fortify foods and fluids with skim milk powder. One cup of powder has 250 calories and 24 grams of protein.

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