To determine the prevalence and prognostic value of weight loss (WL) prior to diagnosis in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).We enrolled patients diagnosed with ALS between 2010 and 2018 in a population-based setting. At diagnosis, detailed information was obtained regarding the patient's disease characteristics, anthropological changes, ALS-related genotypes and cognitive functioning. Complete survival data were obtained. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the association between WL and the risk of death during follow-up.The data set comprised 2420 patients of whom 67.5% reported WL at diagnosis. WL occurred in 71.8% of the bulbar-onset and in 64.2% of the spinal-onset patients; the mean loss of body weight was 6.9% (95% CI 6.8 to 6.9) and 5.5% (95% CI 5.5 to 5.6), respectively (p<0.001). WL occurred in 35.1% of the patients without any symptom of dysphagia. WL is a strong independent predictor of survival, with a dose response relationship between the amount of WL and the risk of death: the risk of death during follow-up increased by 23% for every 10% increase in WL relative to body weight (HR 1.23, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.51, p<0.001).This population-based study shows that two-thirds of the patients with ALS have WL at diagnosis, which also occurs independent of dysphagia, and is related to survival. Our results suggest that WL is a multifactorial process that may differ from patient to patient. Gaining further insight in its underlying factors could prove essential for future therapeutic measures.