Mind the Hunger Gap - The BDA's Malnutrition Campaign
The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the greatest single threat to the world's public health, but it is still widely believed that malnutrition is a problem restricted to the developing world. Quite simply, this is not true. Today, in the UK, millions of friends, relatives, neighbours, children and colleagues are at risk of the effects of malnutrition. The BDA launched Mind the Hunger Gap in 2011/12 to focus on malnutrition levels in older people still living in a community setting, otherwise known as the ‘invisible population’.
Malnutrition and mortality are usually closely linked. It leads to death by increasing the susceptibility of malnourished individuals to infectious diseases and, once infected, increasing the severity and duration of these diseases. For more than 10 years we have known about the public health scandal that is malnutrition in the UK - yet still, thousands of older, vulnerable people go hungry in their own homes. Both inside and outside the health and social care system, thousands of older people are surviving on less than one meal a day.
The campaign aimed to put the spotlight on malnutrition in the community. Dietitians’ expertise, partnership working and leadership skills are essential in protecting current services, to ensure that food is at the heart of community care.
Key Facts and Figures
- More than 3 million people in the UK are at risk of malnutrition with the vast majority, about 93%, living in the community setting, 5% in residential care and 2% in hospital.
- One million older people in the United Kingdom living in their own homes are suffering from malnutrition.
- Greater use of healthcare and costs associated with malnutrition mean:
- 65% more GP visits;
- 82% more hospital admissions;
- 30% longer hospital stay.
- The health and social care costs in the United Kingdom directly associated with malnutrition comes to more than £13 billion per annum (based on 2007 prices).