Purpose: The ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’) has been designed to help identify adults who are underweight and at risk of malnutrition,
as well as those who are obese. It has not been designed to detect deficiencies in or excessive intakes of vitamins and minerals.
Definition of malnutrition: There is no universally accepted definition of malnutrition but the following is increasingly being used:
Malnutrition is a state of nutrition in which a deficiency or excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein, and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effects on tissue/body form (body shape, size and composition) and function, and clinical outcome.
Although the term malnutrition can refer to both under and overnutrition it is used here to refer to undernutrition. A BMI >30kg/m2 is used to indicate very overweight (obese) individuals.
Malnutrition and public health: It has been estimated that at any one time more than 3 million people in the UK are at risk of malnutrition2 and, yet it continues to be an under-recognised and under-treated problem. Furthermore, the public health expenditure on disease-related malnutrition in the UK in 2007 was calculated to be in excess of £13 billion per annum, about 80% of which was in England2. This is a heavy burden and cost to bear not only for individuals, but for health and social care services, and society as a whole.