Usually we think of families in 3rdworld countries, or maybe those with clinical eating disorders such as anorexia
nervosa or bulimia.
You probably don’t associate malnourishment with eating food, but the truth is you can be malnourished whilst still eating regularly.
According to the BDA (British Association of Dieticians) in the UK alone around 3million people suffer from malnourishment costing the NHS an excess of £13 billion per year!
This post is designed to help you understand what impacts our nutritional status: signs of malnutrition, high-risk groups, links with poverty, and simple ways to eat yourself healthy whilst cutting costs.
Malnutrition occurs when your body is not getting the correct amount of nutrients
it needs from your diet.
Whilst usually associated with poorer countries where their diet is restricted and there is less food security, it is increasingly becoming a problem in Westernised societies due to:
- Highly accessible and cheaper convenience foods with little to no nutritional benefit (think ready meals, sugary snacks, cereals, takeaways).
- Increased food prices making cheaper alternatives more attractive
- Growing economic stress
- Miss-communication; healthy eating messages usually focused on weight not tackling the larger picture of malnutrition
More people opt for as a quick fix. Due to the rise in food prices and other personal or environmental, stress factors, these food choices can seem like an easier option than preparing meals themselves.
is the leading cause of morbidity (disease) and the
consequences harsh. From the direct
impact on daily functioning, lowering immunity, energy levels, disrupting
sleep and cognitive abilities(thinking, problem solving, mood, IQ, reasoning abilities).
To the more indirect, or long-term impacts, on heart and bone health, fertility, social, and economic growth.
Diet shapes your brain, impacts your body and influences your quality of life.
There are few things you can look out for when identifying malnourishment in yourself or others:
· Weight loss/weight gain
· Loss of muscle strength
· Loss of appetite and mood changes
· Reduced quality of life
· Inability to carry out daily activities & loss of independence
· Slower healing and easily picking up illnesses like colds and flu
· Increased infection
· Poor sleep
· Thinning of hair and nails
You may notice how many of those link in
with symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression. It is important to
note how our body and mind are not separate entities and work together to help us
Malnutrition can impact anyone, but there are certain groups who are deemed as being more "high risk”:
· Those suffering from mental health or disability
· Those with income-poverty
· Those with lower education or lack of education around healthy eating and simplistic nutrition
· Children who may be carers for parents and/or siblings
· Those suffering with clinical eating disorders and other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that can influence the body's ability to absorb nutrients
· Minority groups & those at risk of social isolation
Malnutrition has serious consequences on child development and, for pregnant mothers, foetal development. Therefore it is important that when we look at tackling food poverty, and supporting those most at risk of nutritional deficiencies, in order to reduce the immediate, and future, impact on health and wellbeing.
Low income is a massive factor that puts
families under pressure and at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Low-income families are also at a higher risk of illness and disability meaning their costs of healthcare may be higher, leaving even less to budget healthy eating, and with the additional stressors experienced, making diet and lifestyle bottom of the priorities. Having to take days of work, or school due to poor health as a result of malnutrition can perpetuate the problem, interrupting education, or economic advances. And so the poverty cycle deepens.
Here are some simple steps to kick-start yours and your family's health today:
gentle on yourself.
It’s all about the small steps, forget the bigger picture, and work each day at the little changes you can implement into yours and your family's lives that down the line will make for a long, happy, healthy future.
If you’re stuck we want to support you through your journey. Our freeFoodWise courses run around Guildford and Woking.
On them you are fully catered for,supported, you’ll build community as well as learning important life-skills that enable you to support yours and your family's health whilst still cutting the costs.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.