Sunday, 31 August 2014

Malnutrition - public health people are lying to us about its incidence


The Guardian writes this:

Doctors and hospitals are seeing a rise in children suffering from ailments caused by poor diet and the faculty has linked the trend to people's inability to afford quality food. Latest figures show there has been a 19% increase in people hospitalised in England and Wales for malnutrition over the past 12 months but experts say this is only the extreme end.

From this you would conclude, would you not, that there are hordes of starving children with distended stomachs filling up our hospitals? Whether the author did this deliberately is unclear but the truth is that all of that increase in malnutrition relates to the elderly. Every year, for as far as records of malnutrition go back, there are around 200 children admitted to hospital with conditions related to malnutrition.

The main reason - here from 'fullfact' -is this:

People with certain long-term health conditions can’t always retain all the nutrients they need – particularly the elderly, who might also struggle to make the trip to the supermarket. With this in mind, the higher incidence of malnutrition might also reflect broader demographic trends, including the fact that the UK’s population is ageing. The most recent Nutrition Screening Survey showed that those aged 65 plus were more likely to be malnourished than those who were younger. In addition, it may also be that hospitals are now more likely to screen a patient for symptoms of malnourishment.

So the Faculty for Public Health (and Tracey McVeigh in The Guardian) are misleading us about malnutrition because it suits their political agenda. There has been no increase in child malnutrition and the numbers are very small (200 hundred cases in a cohort of nearly 12 million) but we continue to be told that there is a problem. That is, of course, when the Faculty for Public Health isn't telling us that all our children are obese because of "junk food" and fizzy drinks.


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