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Should malnutrition be a concern in Europe?


The term 'Malnutrition' includes both the over-nutrition (overweight and obesity) as well as undernutrition. However, for the purpose of this ''update''  is used to mean under-nutrition and nutritional risk. According to the recent update of the Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI) it seems that malnutrition is widespread throughout the Europe. It is estimated that over 30 million people are at risk.  

Functional disablility, chronic diseases and poor food intake are the main causes of the problem. Taking a look into the heart of the problem more than 50% of patients suffering from malnutrition are underdiagnosed and do not receive proper medical care, despite the availability of reliable screening tools. The early identification and  evidence-based management of malnutrition or rikf of malnutrition are therefore mandatory to tackle the impact it has on patients.

Although malnutrtion can affect everyone, older people and particularly hospitalized patients over the agr of 65 years have a 30% greater chance of becoming malnutrished.

Unfortunately, the clinical and finincial impact for both the individual and the society is quite noticable. The risk of infection along with prolonged hospitalization and higher complication rates increase to 3-fold times comparing to well-nourished counterparts. Enumerating the actual economic burden this estimated to €170 billion each year in Europe, while the malnutrished patients and their families are dealing with impaired function, mobility and independence.

Experts suggest that appropriate nutrional intervention is mandatory in reducing the adverse health outcomes. As a matter of fact, Dr Ailsa Brotherton (UK Department of Health’s QIPP Safe Care workstream and is Honorary Secretary of the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) Executive Team) states that: ''We need to improve the nutritional care by identifying malnutrition early and ensuring that patients in all care settings, especially those who are vulnerable, are screened for malnutrition and then have a personal care plan and appropriate monitoring thereafter, if they are at risk.''

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