When we talk about public health crises, obesity is often the first to be named. The prevalence of obesity in this country is regularly covered in the media. But there is another growing epidemic: malnutrition.
It is estimated that over 3 million people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. Our elderly population is particularly at risk: over 1 million of those affected are over 65.
Identifying malnutrition can be particularly challenging, as 93% of those affected live in the community, meaning it can be even harder to spot and address someone’s inadequate diet.1 Addressing malnutrition among our elderly population, particularly those living in their own homes, needs to be a key priority for everyone involved in community health and care.
There is a misconception that losing weight is the main symptom of malnutrition; however, there are many other things to look for. Signs of malnutrition can be physical, such as dry skin and hair, brittle nails, or sores around the mouth. They can also be psychological, including increased irritability and depression. Worsening night vision and joint pain are signs of a lack of vitamins and minerals, which is also connected to malnutrition.2
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