Malnutrition 'costs UK billions'

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Roman Bystrianyk, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. "Malnutrition 'costs UK billions'", BBC News, December 13, 2005,

    Malnutrition costs the UK more than £7.3bn a year - more than double
    the bill for obesity, a report has found.

    However, the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
    said malnutrition was given a much lower priority by the government.

    The report estimates around 30% of patients in hospitals and nursing
    homes are clinically malnourished.

    In total, more than three million people are thought to be malnourished
    at any one time.

    This includes 10% of people over the age of 65 living in the community.

    A report published by the Malnutrition Advisory Group in 2003 warned
    that many people with malnutrition go undiagnosed.

    Malnourished people stay in hospital longer, succumb to infection more
    often, and visit their GP more frequently.

    They also require longer-term care, and more extensive nursing care.

    Screening needed

    The BAPEN report found it costs £3.8 billion a year to treat
    malnourished people in hospital, and £2.6 billion to treat them in
    long-term care facilities.

    GP and outpatient visits add another £750 million to the bill.

    Professor Marinos Elia, BAPEN chairman, called for effective screening
    to detect malnutrition, so that appropriate nutritional treatment can
    be provided.

    The association has developed a simple-to-use screening tool to
    identify those already suffering or at risk of malnutrition.

    Professor Elia said: "It is surprising that in England it has not been
    made mandatory for all patients to be screened for malnutrition on
    admission to hospital as it has in Scotland.

    "It takes a period of time for an individual to become clinically
    malnourished, often starting in the community, but if at least it is
    picked up in hospital a great deal of suffering of patients and their
    families can be avoided.

    "Resources must be made available for the training of health and care
    staff in all settings so that malnourished patients and residents are
    identified and appropriate treatment and support provided."

    A Department of Health spokesperson said measures, backed by new
    investment, had been put in place to tackle the health inequalities
    that can lead to poor diet and ill health.

    The Better Hospital Food programme had improved quality, access and
    availability of food to hospital patients.

    Minimum standards for meals in care homes had also been introduced.