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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 2015 the cost of undernutrition was estimated to be in excess of £19.6 billion per year (Elia, 2015).

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)
  • 35% 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).

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