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How can we help the 1.3 million older people in the UK who are suffering from hunger?

Posted January 22nd 2018 by Alice

a group of women having tea together

Today on BBC Breakfast there was a feature on a new parliamentary report showing that 1.3 million older people suffer from hunger in the UK. Although these figures are shocking, we are pleased that this issue is gaining more awareness through this new report.

Our Food Buddies project, where we work in Falkirk and the Borders, was set up to focus on this problem. We know that so much conversation around food can focus on losing weight and there is a misunderstanding that losing weight is a normal part of getting older. In fact, as shown in the BBC clip you can watch here, losing weight when you are a healthy weight is a sign that you are not getting the fuel you need.

We know that winter in particular can be an especially difficult time for older people to eat well. It can be harder to get out to the shops in the colder weather and a lot of the media focuses on how people should be losing weight after excesses over Christmas, which can be a difficult message to ignore. That’s why we have produced a booklet on Winter Tips for older people to stay well at this time, you can view the Winter Tips here.

“My Granny is 87 and is so active as she cares for my Grandad and cycles 5K every day. I try to encourage her to eat enough but she is worried about getting fat so avoids foods with a lot of calories”.

The Times has also focused on how the issue of malnutrition affects older people in an article today. Interestingly, The Times argues that isolation is a key factor for older people being malnourished and states how incredibly important groups like Lunch Clubs are.

“Isolation from relatives and friends is a bigger cause of malnutrition in the elderly than poverty”.

It is good to see conversations being started on this topic, and people understanding how being physically isolated can make eating well even harder for older people which is why some of our work for Food Buddies takes place in rural communities. If you are worried about how to best support someone who might not be eating as well as they could be, or you’re worried you might not be getting the nutrients you need, then take a look at our Food Buddies project page and all the resources we have. From tips for vegetarians and vegans to a guide for carers of people with dementia, take a look to see if there is anything that could help you or someone you know.

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