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UK’s hidden malnutrition problem:

May 26, 2015 - 12:28 PM

UK’s hidden malnutrition problem: Nutricia AMN finds majority of population unable to recognise signs of malnutrition

One in six (16%) know someone suffering from malnutrition, and 7% have suffered themselves

Yet 70% associate the problem with world hunger, not an issue at home

Nearly 1/3 (28%) believe weight loss is the only sign of malnutrition

London, 25 May:  A new survey by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition (AMN), the UK’s leading provider of medical nutrition, shows disease related malnutrition in the UK is not well understood – despite:

  • 20% of respondents caring for family members where illness made it difficult to eat
  • One in six (16%) know someone who has been malnourished, and 7%  have been malnourished themselves
  • Potential savings of £71,800 per 100,000 people through improved screening, assessment, treatment and follow-up of patients at risk of malnutrition[1]

 Of those surveyed, malnutrition was associated with world hunger by 70% of respondents and not a problem in the UK.  One in ten (10%) were unaware there is help available. 

Malnutrition costs the UK in excess of £13 billion per year, around double that of obesity[2], and three million people (5% of population) in the UK are malnourished or are at risk of malnutrition. Around 93% of these live in the community, 5% in care homes and 2% in hospital but may not be receiving the medical nutrition that would help them.[3]

 70% of those surveyed are not convinced the government and NHS do enough to prevent malnutrition and 83% want more information on medical nutrition made available.  NICE estimates savings of £71,800 per 100,000 people through improved screening, assessment, treatment and follow-up of patients at risk of malnutrition, but the first step must be public awareness of the issue and available assistance.

 Nutricia AMN is encouraging access to medical nutrition to improve health outcomes such as reducing readmissions to hospital[4], decreasing complications such as infections and pressure ulcers, growing grip strength and weight, and reducing mortality.[5] [6]  Medical nutrition is an integral part of healthcare for patients who have specific nutritional requirements associated with their disease or disorder that cannot be met by food alone. Medical nutrition products, which come in a range of formats including drinks, powders, yoghurt style products and tube feeds, are used by healthcare professionals to support patients better managing their conditions and improve health outcomes.

 Nearly half of respondents (49%) were not aware of the link between malnutrition and long-term conditions including cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even pressure ulcers.

 An ‘unusual level of weight loss’ is the most often recognised sign of malnutrition, from 28% of responses.  Additional clues can include lack of interest in food, reduced mobility, excessive tiredness, an increase in infections and low mood, but these were rarely cited.  If the indications of malnutrition are not well known they can be missed and significantly impact health outcomes for patients. Malnutrition in children is particularly concerning as up to 24% of hospitalised children may be malnourished.[7]  Nearly one in three respondents (30%) did not realise malnutrition can impact a child’s IQ[8] and growth long-term[9]

As part of Nutricia AMN’s ongoing support for the Wallace & Gromit Children’s Foundation, and coinciding with the final days of the Foundation’s Shaun in the City Trail in London, a special Shaun the Sheep event was held at Hamleys Toy Store on Sunday, 24th May, to highlight the benefits of medical nutrition in children’s disease management.  A group of young children and their families from London and the Home Counties, all living with different health challenges and benefitting from medical nutrition support participated in a party and treasure hunt with healthcare professionals from their local area.

 Natasha Bye, Director of Public and Strategic Affairs at Nutricia AMN, said, “Malnutrition makes it difficult to fight illness and plays a much more significant role in healthcare than many people realise. Children living with neurodisability are one just one of the many groups of people who could benefit from additional nutritional support, and carers and patients need quick access to information and support via their healthcare professionals if nutritional needs are not being adequately met.  We have enjoyed bringing some of the many children who benefit from our products and services here today for a party to highlight medical nutrition’s role in helping children and families live well.”


[1] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Implementation programme: NICE support for commissioners and others using the quality standard on nutrition support in adults. 2012

[2] Elia M and Stratton RJ. Calculating the cost of disease-related malnutrition in the UK in 2007 (public expenditure only) in: Combating Malnutrition: Recommendations for Action. Report from the advisory group on malnutrition, led by BAPEN. 2009.

[3] Elia M & Russell CA (editors) (2009) Combating malnutrition: recommendations for action. A report from the Advisory Group on Malnutrition. Led by BAPEN. Redditch, Worcs: BAPEN.

[4] Stratton R, Hebuterne X, Elia M. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of oral nutritional supplements on hospital readmissions. Ageing Research Reviews 2013; 12 (4):884-897.

[5] Cawood AL, Elia M, Stratton RJ. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of high protein oral nutritional supplements. Ageing Research Reviews 2012 Apr;11(2):278-96.

[6] Stratton R, Elia M. A review of reviews: A new look at the evidence for oral nutritional supplements in clinical practice. Clinical Nutrition Supplements 2007;2:5-23.

[7] Pallewek I et al. Prevalence of malnutrition in paediatric hospital patients. Clinical Nutrition 2008; 27:72-76 Clinical Nutrition 2008; 27:72-76

[8] Kar B et al. Cognitive development in children with chronic protein energy malnutrition. Behavioural Brain Functions 2008; 4: 31.

[9] Crookston BT et al. Postinfancy growth, schooling, and cognitive achievement: Young Lives. American Journal Clinical Nutrition 2013 Dec; 98(6):1555-63. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.067561. Epub 2013 Sep 2

-ends-

 Lightspeed GMI carried out the survey on behalf of Nutricia AMN. Questions were posed to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK consumers from 11-19 May.  Full survey results are available. 

Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition (AMN)

Nutricia AMN is the market-leading provider of medical nutrition products and services for patients whose health benefits from foods developed for special medical purposes. Whether managing a long term condition or recovering from an illness, dietary intervention can play an important role in delivering improved health outcomes. Nutricia AMN’s products and services are specially designed for this purpose, making a difference to the lives of people who need them both in hospital and in their own homes through the Nutricia Homeward service in the UK.

We believe that advanced medical nutrition is integral to healthcare, and work closely with organisations and medical professionals to ensure patients have access to the right nutritional care when they need it most.

As part of the Danone Group, Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition expands and completes Danone's mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible.

 Press contacts:

Burson-Marsteller

Ruci Fixter

Mobile: +44 (0) 7552 212 008

Ruci.Fixter@bm.com

 Or

 Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition

Anthea Jackson

Head of Corporate Affairs
Mobile: 07768507547

anthea.jackson@nutricia.com

www.nutricia.co.uk

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