A review and summary of the impact of malnutrition in older people and the reported costs and benefits of interventions

Jul 13, 2013 | REPORTS

ILC-UK and Malnutrition Task Force have jointly published a review of the impact of malnutrition on older people and the reported costs and benefits of interventions.  In this report Dr Lisa Wilson (ILC-UK) considers the cost of malnutrition in the UK and the interventions and preventative measures which have been proven to work in tackling both the causes and consequences of malnutrition.

The Malnutrition Task Force is an independent group of experts across Health, Social Care and Local government united to address the problem of avoidable and preventable malnutrition in older people. More information is available on the Malnutrition Task Force website: http://www.malnutritiontaskforce.org.uk/.

Key facts

  1. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people over 65 living in the community are malnourished or at risk.
  2. Research has shown that malnourished people;
    a. saw their GP twice as often, had 3 times the number of hospital admissions and
    b. stayed in hospital more than 3 days longer than those who were well nourished (Guest et al, 2011).
  3. 30% of those identified as malnourished by their GP remained malnourished for a further 6 months after diagnosis (Guest et al, 2011).
  4. The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise by nearly 50% in the next 20 years to over 16 million. (Office for National Statistics, 2011; Age UK, 2013). We cannot ignore the problem of malnutrition any longer; there is a ‘cost’ to doing nothing as the situation could get worse.
  5. Malnutrition increases dependency on family, carers and support services (Carers UK, 2011).
  6. ONS is associated with a reduction of overall hospital readmissions by 30% (Cawood et al, 2012) and NICE deems appropriate treatment with ONS to be cost effective (NICE, 2006).
  7. Maintaining independence, preventing isolation, ensuring access to food and services, preventing poverty and ensuring quality of life are critical components in preventing malnutrition. Evaluated community meal services demonstrate a positive impact in achieving this.
  8. Food, hydration and nutrition do not exist in isolation from other influences on health and wellbeing. Therefore, a holistic approach to the individual’s needs is required, inclusive of teams and organisations providing integrated care, support and treatment.


Author: Dr Lisa Wilson