Posted on October 13, 2021 by Jenny Cromack

As winter approaches it is important for us to be aware of malnutrition in not only ourselves but in others around us. Malnutrition is often overlooked and thought to be more visually identified, however malnutrition refers to excesses, deficiencies and/ or imbalances in an individual’s diet. There are various forms of malnutrition, making it harder to spot in people and even ourselves. Whilst we often blog about nutrition, as part of the UK’s Malnutrition Awareness Week, we wanted to highlight the main forms of malnutrition: these can be known as undernutrition, micronutrient malnutrition and overweight and/or obesity.

Why is it important?

From 11th– 17th October UK Malnutrition awareness week runs with the aim to raise awareness among the public. This campaign helps people to understand and recognise the signs of malnutrition and to educate us on how to fight against it. 

Malnutrition increases health care costs and slows economic growth which can result in ill-health and poverty as well as putting the vulnerable in potential danger or health risks. 

Who is at risk?

All forms of malnutrition are one of the largest global health challenges and everyone can be at risk. However, many older people can often find themselves most vulnerable than ever when winter approaches, as well as becoming less mobile and losing confidence to go out and run daily errands, resulting in a decline of wellbeing and a poor, reduced food intake.

The World Health Organisation states that women, children, infants and adolescents are at particular risk, as well as a higher risk within poverty and low-income households.

How to spot?

When malnutrition is spotted early, it is much easier to manage. Using the ask, look and listen method helps us recognise any signs of malnutrition in ourselves and people around us.

Ask– it’s always good to check in on your family and friends and conversation normally flows pretty easy when we do have those catch ups. So next time why not ask how they are doing and how think how their diet may reflect this? For example, if they have been hectic with work, have they made enough time to have regular breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks along with water breaks?

Look– observing is always a good approach when it comes to helping others. Remember we are looking/ observing and not sharing opinions. Are you worried you or a family member are losing unplanned weight loss? Have you noticed your cupboards and fridge are looking very bare and bland lately? 

Listen– Listening to what someone is telling you, how are they feeling or coming across? Do they seem like themselves, do you seem like yourself? Practice actively listening and make a conscious effort to empathise.

How to prevent?

The simplest way to make sure you have a good, nourished diet would be to follow the government guidelines and use the Eatwell guide to begin. As well as this, following the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake and daily exercise. Using this guide with friends and family will encourage a healthier and well-nourished lifestyle, helping to prevent any future health risks. 

Take a look at the basics of nutrition, for some simple tips on how to improve your diet!