Posted on September 22, 2014 · Posted in News

Over 3 million persons over 65 years in the UK are malnourished. One million are living in their own homes.  As well as affecting quality of life of an individual malnutrition costs the taxpayer over £13 billion a year.

As a dietitian, amber flags are raised when someone has unintentionally lost 5% or more weight over the past 3 months. This equates to half a stone weight loss in an 11 stone person.  It is more likely however that you will notice someone’s clothes, rings and watches are looser.  Weight loss can be halted by a few simple dietary changes at an early stage.  The problem is however going unrecognised for many.

Malnutrition has an impact on health such as;

  • Depressed immunity
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Weaker breathing which increases risks of chest infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Low mood and self-neglect

If you suspect someone is losing weight unintentionally there are a few things that can be done:

  • Encourage little snacks and small meals every couple of hours.  Little and often.  Too much food on a plate at one time can be off-putting.
  • Make sure meals are varied, attractive and colourful.
  • Consider soft textures if there are any denture problems (often happens following rapid weight loss) or swallowing difficulties.
  • Have a small glass (100mls) of full fat milk with or after meals, milky coffees and milky bedtime drinks

For further support it is best to speak with the GP and ask for a referral to a dietitian.  There are many prescribable products that are palatable and effective for persons who are losing weight unintentionally.  Health professionals are often unaware of the presence of persons in the community who are malnourished, especially if they are isolated and vulnerable.  For more information about malnutrition in the community visit www.mindthehungergap.com

About the Author