It is estimated that approximately three million people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The vast majority (over 90%) of people who are malnourished are living in their own homes, and yet for many people the signs and symptoms of malnutrition go unnoticed and unrecognised. Malnutrition affects every system in the body and results in increased vulnerability to illness, increased complications, and in very extreme cases even death. Furthermore, malnutrition is a major public health issue estimated to have cost £19.6 billion in just one year in England alone at the last estimate, about 15% of the total expenditure on health and social care.
Kirsty Gaffigan, Dietetic Assistant Practitioner, said: “We were keen to support Malnutrition Awareness Week which is particularly important this year as COVID-19 has meant that more older people who are more vulnerable have needed to isolate.
The risk of becoming undernourished increases significantly as people age, and it is further complicated by the common myth that losing weight is a normal part of ageing, when it should actually raise alarm bells. We are all well aware that obesity causes serious health problems, but there are also serious health consequences for older people, who are at the other end of the scale, and don’t eat enough. The consequences of not eating enough mean increased risk of illness and infection, slower wound healing, increased risk of falls, low mood, reduced energy levels and reduced quality of life.
If you are concerned about anyone, please do urge them to seek a referral to community dietetics from their GP or health care provider.”
National Malnutrition Awareness week is a joint initiative by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) and Malnutrition Task Force. To view BAPEN malnutrition video visit: www.bapen.org.uk/how-good-is-your-nutritional-care