Tackling malnutrition in older people living at home in Scotland

About Malnutrition

What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition occurs when a person's diet does not meet their nutritional needs. At Eat Well Age Well, we are concerned with undernutrition, i.e. malnutrition due to undernourishment, and as such, all mentions of malnutrition by Eat Well Age Well refer to undernutrition. Malnutrition is a key public health problem that has a significant impact on individuals' health and wellbeing, cost the NHS billions per year. Malnutrition is often a silent and hidden issue, with low awareness amongst the public and health professionals.

Who is at Risk of Malnutrition?

Older people are at higher risk of malnutrition than younger people, and at Eat Well Age Well our focus is on older people aged 65 years and over. Older people living at home are at risk of becoming malnourished due to a variety of reasons such as decreased sense of taste and smell, restricted mobility, and feelings of loneliness

How many older people in Scotland are affected by malnutrition?

Malnutrition in the community in Scotland is not routinely measured, therefore the true extent of the problem is unknown.

Data from the Malnutrition Task Force. estimates that 1 in 10 people living in the UK today are malnourished, or at risk of being malnourished, therefore based on population data there are approx. 103,000 older people living in Scotland who have malnutrition, or who are affected by malnutrition. However, from our own prevalence data, we think this may be an underestimate, with as many 30% of older people living in the community at risk and these figures are only going to worsen with an ageing population.