This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in

Significant unintentional weight loss

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

This is a very non-specific symptom. However, an acute weight loss may be indicative of a serious underlying pathology. Below is presented a scheme for thinking about acute weight loss.

Causes of acute weight loss include:

  • insufficient calorie intake:
    • anorexia - associated with infection, malignancy and anorexia nervosa
    • dysphagia e.g. oesophageal carcinoma, oesophageal reflux
    • vomiting e.g. pyloric stenosis, hiatus hernia

  • malabsorptive states:
    • chronic pancreatitis, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease

  • high energy usage:
    • malignancy
    • thyrotoxicosis

Significant unintentional weight loss is defined as (1):

  • unintentional loss of more than 5% of body weight over 6 to 12 months


  • NHS Choices. Unitentional weight loss (Accessed 29/12/2020).

Related pages

Create an account to add page annotations

Annotations allow you to add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation. E.g. a website or number. This information will always show when you visit this page.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.