The British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) has revealed that malnutrition costs the country over £7.3 billion annually. This is more than twice the cost incurred on obesity. In spite of this, the Government gives a low priority to malnutrition, according to BAPEN. Malnutrition is an imbalance, excess or deficiency of nutrients which results in the body functions being affected.
At any given time, the country has over 3 million people who suffer from malnutrition, and about 10% of this population is aged over 65 years. Most cases of malnutrition in the country go undiagnosed. People who suffer from malnutrition spend longer periods in hospitals. Providing treatment to the malnourished at the country's hospitals costs £3.8 billion annually, and providing them with long-term facilities costs another £2.6 billion.
Professor Marinos Elia, the Chairman of BAPEN has called for better screening to detect malnutrition to ensure the appropriate nutritional treatment. A screening tool has been developed by the association to identify those who run the risk of malnutrition. Screening for malnutrition while getting admitted to a hospital is yet to be made compulsory in the UK.
A spokesperson belonging to the Department of Health has revealed that new measures to tackle health problems due to malnutrition have been initiated with new investment.