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Focus on Undernutrition Focus on Undernutrition

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Facts on Undernutrition

  • At any one time there are over 3 million adults undernourished in the UK (Elia and Russell 2009). This can have very serious consequences for those individuals but also the economy of the nation.
  • Did you know that undernutrition costs the UK more than obesity and the cost is still increasing. In 2009 the cost of undernutrition was estimated to be in excess of 13billion per year (Elia and Russell 2009).

Undernutrition effects:

  • 14% of people over the age of 65 (Stratton and Elia 2005)
  • 14% of older people living in their own home (Elia and Russell 2008)
  • 14% of people living in sheltered housing (Elia and Russell 2009)
  • 42% of residents in elderly care homes (Elia and Russell 2009
  • 34% of hospital admissions (Elia and Russell 2009)
  • 10% of patients attending outpatient departments and GP clinics (Elia 2009)
  • The risk of undernutrition steadily increases with age from 9% of 65 years compared to 19% of 90 years (Elia and Stratton 2005)
  • Geographical habitation can influence its prevalence. Older people who live in the north of England have a 73% greater risk of becoming undernourished compared to those in the south (Elia and Stratton 2005)
  • Undernutrition can affect an individual's outcome. It can increase vulnerability to illness, increase clinical complications and even death (Brotherton et al, 2010)

Some signs of undernutrition include:

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Reduced mobility
  • Infections
  • An older person who is undernourished has triple the risk of dying in hospital and after discharge (Stratton and Elia, 2006)
  • Timely identification and treatment of undernutrition can reduce clinical complications associated with undernutrition by as much as 70%, while excess mortality can be reduced by around 40%. (Stratton et al 2003).