Can You Be Overweight and Malnourished?

Being malnourished and overweight seems contradictory. Usually, we associate the word ‘malnourished’ with thin, less fortunate people than ourselves lacking enough food and nutrients to be healthy. If we have enough food to be overweight then we can’t possibly lack anything, right? Wrong! In fact, the opposite is true. It’s very easy to be overweight and malnourished at the same time. And it has everything to do with diet.

How Does Malnutrition Happen?

Malnutrition  happens when choosing “empty calorie foods”, foods with little nutritional value and a lot of calories. Think sugary soda, candy, pastries, cookies, and cake. These foods provide very little health value. Not only are they calorie-dense, but they lack important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and others.

Getting enough nutrients is important, as they provide your body with the building blocks that it needs to function. If you’re overweight, yet low on energy, having trouble concentrating or not healing from an injury as quickly as expected, you may be malnourished.

Eat Less Processed Foods

To ensure you get the nourishment your body needs, it’s important to eat a variety of minimally processed whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Try to fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits and split the other half with equal parts of whole grains and lean protein.  Although Vitamin and mineral supplements cannot encompass all the biologically active compounds in healthy foods, they can help fill in the gaps and ensure we are meeting our daily needs.

Once we break the cycle of too many empty calories and not enough nutrients, it can lead to very real benefits that we can enjoy every day for the rest of our lives.



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Corbett, Adrian. “Are You Overweight and Malnourished?” Gut Geek, 11 July 2022,

Kobylińska, Milena, et al. “Malnutrition in Obesity: Is It Possible?” Obesity Facts, vol. 15, no. 1, 2021, pp. 19–25.,

“Malnutrition in the Obese Commonly Overlooked but with Serious Consequences ” Division of Cardiovascular Medicine ” College of Medicine ” University of Florida.” UF Monogram,