Malnutrition can adversely affect physical and psychological function, influencing both morbidity and mortality. Despite the prevalence of malnutrition and its associated health and economic costs, malnutrition remains under-detected and under-treated in differing healthcare settings. For a subgroup of malnourished individuals, a gastrostomy (a feeding tube placed directly into the stomach) may be required to provide long-term nutritional support. In this review we explore the spectrum and consequences of malnutrition in differing healthcare settings. We then specifically review gastrostomies as a method of providing nutritional support. The review highlights the origins of gastrostomies, and discusses how endoscopic and radiological advances have culminated in an increased demand and placement of gastrostomy feeding tubes. Several studies have raised concerns about the benefits derived following this intervention and also about the patients selected to undergo this procedure. These studies are discussed in detail in this review, alongside suggestions for future research to help better delineate those who will benefit most from this intervention, and improve understanding about how gastrostomies influence nutritional outcomes.