Jonathan’s story

“That's the thing with cancer treatment, you think ‘well, I was a bit overweight, I've lost some weight,’ but it doesn't work like that, you lose muscle.”

Medical nutrition complemented my day-to-day diet. I started feeling more nourished, and in general I felt stronger and more energised.
Jonathan - UK

An introduction to cancer and weight loss

Cancer is a term used to group together a set of diseases that can affect almost any part of our body; it will affect around 1 in 2 people during their lifetimes.A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event for both the patient and their loved ones. Both the disease and its treatment can be extremely demanding on the body, taking away strength when the body needs to be at its strongest.4

19.3 million new cancer cases in 2018 [1]. Malnutrition affects up to 80% of cancer patients [2].


World Cancer Day 2024: Closing the Nutritional Care Gap

Nutricia supports World Cancer Day 2024 and aims to raise awareness about the importance of appropriate nutritional support at each step of the cancer journey. This year, we bring you Jonathan Clark’s story  to demonstrate why nutrition is an essential part of your overall cancer care. We hope to encourage everyone to take action and help start a conversation with your healthcare professional to close the nutritional gap in cancer care.

Related articles

Cancer and appetite loss

When diagnosed with cancer, loss of appetite may seem a relatively minor issue. But without adequate nutrition, your body is less able to cope with both the cancer and its treatment– reducing the chance of a successful treatment6. Ensuring good nutrition and avoiding weight loss is therefore an essential part of a patient’s treatment and recovery plan.

Cancer and taste changes

Changes in taste and smell are more than just an unpleasant side effect of cancer treatment. They can stop you eating a healthy balanced diet, potentially leading to weight loss and even malnutrition – at a time when your body needs to be at its strongest.

Cancer and weight loss

Keeping physically strong during cancer can be tough; the side effects of the disease and its treatment can take a toll on the body, negatively affecting appetite, the way we taste food and even the way our body absorbs nutrients. For many cancer patients (30-80%5) this leads to weight loss. Importantly, the majority of the weight lost by cancer patients is muscle7 – or ‘lean body mass’ – the protective tissue needed to keep the body strong and withstand treatment. Losing a significant amount of weight can even delay treatment8-9.

The role of medical nutrition in cancer care

Weight loss during cancer, particularly loss of lean body mass, can have a negative impact on the health of a patient, increasing the rate of complications and affecting the success of both treatment and recovery9-11. It is therefore important that cancer patients maintain weight to give themselves the best chance possible. When eating and drinking become difficult due to the disease and/or treatment side effects, medical nutrition may be prescribed by a healthcare professional and can help by delivering all the nutrition a patient needs to support weight12-14.

Other useful websites

Helping patients stay strong for the road ahead

It may be the last thing on your mind, but nutrition is an essential part of cancer care. For more information on how to make sure your body is getting enough of the right nutrition, visit our new dedicated (external) information hub for patients.

Cancer care

The Nutricia products shown from this point onwards are intended for the nutritional management of diseases and related medical conditions and therefore should be used under medical supervision.


ESMO launches new clinical guidelines for management of cancer cachexia
Integrating medical nutrition in cancer care for more good days
Importance of sensory alterations for cancer patients with taste alterations

For healthcare professionals only

Cancer care healthcare professional pages

The healthcare professionals pages provide access to a range of articles and resources related to cancer care, including clinical guidelines and detailed product information. The pages are for healthcare professionals only.

  1. Ferlay J, et al, eds. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Accessed March 2022 gco.iarc.fr/today
  2. LavianoA et al. Nutrition 1996;12: p.358-71
  3. AS Ahmad, et al. Br J Cancer, 2015;112(5): 943–7
  4. Ryan et al. Proc Nutr Soc, 2016;75(2)199-211
  5. Hebuterne et al. JPEN. 2014;38(2):196-204
  6. Ryan AM, Prado CM, Sullivan ES, et al: Nutr. 2019; 67-68: 110539
  7. Fearon K et al. Lancet Oncol, 2011;12(5):489-95
  8. Capuano G, et al. Head Neck 2008;30:503-8
  9. Andreyev HJ, et al. Eur J Cancer, 1998;34:503-9
  10. Prado CM, et al. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol, 2011; 67(1): p.93-101
  11. Fearon KC. Eur J Cancer 2008;44(8): p.1124-32
  12.  Burden ST, et al. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle, 2017
  13.  Baldwin et al. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2012;104(5):371-385
  14.  Kabata P, et al. Support Cancer Care, 2015 ;23(2) :365-70


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