According to figures released by NHS Digital 16,314 hospital cases last year were diagnosed with protein energy malnutrition – a condition more usually seen in developing countries.
In 1,557 of these cases the malnutrition was severe enough for them to be admitted to hospital, four times the number from a decade ago.
Professor Simon Capewell is Vice-President for policy for the UK Faculty of Public Health and a professor of clinical epidemiology at the University. Professor Capewell is also a trustee for the UK Health Forum for Heart of Mersey and a founder member of Action on Sugar.
“It is a national scandal. The fifth wealthiest country on the planet is now suffering from Victorian diseases such as malnutrition, rickets, scurvy. These figures are shocking and need to be a real wake up call.
Severe malnutrition is very serious and can be fatal. And what is really worrying is that for every person admitted to hospital, there will be five times that number getting care in out-patient clinics, and another 50 times that number getting care from their GP.
These figures are only the absolute tip of the iceberg. It is a further burden on an already over-burdened NHS and it is absolutely avoidable and preventable.
More and more people in England are living in food poverty. Between 2007 and 2014 food prices rose 12 per cent in real terms, while wages fell by seven per cent. For people in low paid work and on benefits it is a real struggle to put food on the table.
Last year more than a million people accessed food banks – it is a heart breaking sign of the inequality in this country.”