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Families of 1.3million older people with malnutrition missing warning signs

15th October 2019
Posted by Aston Avery

British adults wrongly believe it is normal to become thin and frail in later life, according to new research released today by BAPEN (British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition). 60 per cent of people believe it is normal to lose your appetite over the age of 65, leading to a nationwide malnutrition crisis as 1.3 million people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished.

Worryingly, even if people are concerned about friends or relatives losing weight, many people find it difficult to talk about weight with that person. Over three quarters of people (78 per cent) would be uncomfortable talking to an older neighbour about their weight and 41 per cent would even be uncomfortable talking to an older family member or friend.

Gross misinformation is at fault for this crisis, which is estimated to cost at least £19.6 billion in England (£23.5 billion in the UK), as almost 50% of people believe that you should follow a low fat, low calorie diet at all stages of life. However, recent advice suggests that if you are vulnerable to malnutrition because of age or illness, consuming more calories (as part of a nutrition dense diet) is healthier.

Aston spoke to Dr Rebecca Stratton, chair of the malnutrition action group at BAPEN to discuss the research and also explained about malnutrition awareness week.