Healthy living

Malnutrition risk rises

Malnutrition risk rises One in three hospital patients at risk

More than one in three people admitted to hospital in the UK are at risk of malnutrition, according to a new report.

The nutrition charity BAPEN carried out a survey of nearly 10,000 people admitted to hospitals across the UK in January 2010. Hospitals routinely screen new patients for the risk of malnutrition.

As more than 70 per cent of the patients in the survey lived at home prior to being admitted to hospital, the figures suggest that the malnutrition originated in the community, the charity said.

The latest figures represent an increase in malnutrition in those admitted to hospital from their own homes, as 34 per cent were found to be at risk compared with 26 per cent in the last two surveys.

Cuts in community services such as meals-on-wheels are likley to make the situation worse, BAPEN warned.

Dr Mike Stroud, chairman of BAPEN, said: "Clearly it's a false economy to be making cuts out in the community that are going to make people more vulnerable to malnutrition, with them ending up in hospitals where it costs a fortune to look after them, even for a short stay."

Patients, carers and families should also ask for nutritional screening on admission to hospital or care, and check that a nutrition care plan is being carried out, he added.

Derek Johnson, Chair at the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) said: "A reduction in community meals provision by local authorities will not only lead to a greater number of vulnerable people suffering from malnutrition, as potentially their access to nutritionally balanced food is reduced, but will also mean social interaction, and its vital role in uncovering those at risk, is ignored.

"This could lead to more admissions into hospital and care which will cost the government even more money to fund.”

This article was published on Wed 16 March 2011

Image © Karen Roach -

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