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 puts 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.
- Over 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 stays.
Further Information and Resources
- Read the APPG on Hunger's report on Malnutrition and Hidden Hunger in the Elderly Population, published in January 2018 (and read our submission to that consultation here).
- Read our response to the Senedd Committee on care for the elderly, highlighting the issue of malnutrition.
- Read our submission to the APPG on Ageing and Older People on malnutrition and the right to food.
- Read BSNA's new report (2018) Forgotten not Fixed: A Blueprint to Tackle the Increasing Burden of Malnutrition in England - which highlights the significant underreporting of malnutrition in the UK.
- BDA Policy Statement on Malnutrition.
- Read our Guide to good nutrition in older age, produced with Friends of the Elderly for Nutrition and Hydration Week 2017/18
- Mind the Hunger Gap Poster.
- Case Studies- real-life examples of what the dietetic profession has done to help combat malnutrition within the ‘invisible population’.
- Find key stats on malnutrition on the Malnutrition Task Force website
- Read more about the causes and solutions to malnutrition on the BAPEN website