BAPEN strongly supports the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) recommendation to appoint a dedicated Minister for Hunger.
The cross-party committee, chaired by Mary Creagh MP, has called on the Government to set “clear UK-wide targets” and appoint a dedicated minister to tackle the increasing problem of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the UK.
As part of its recommendation, the EAC has suggested that the Government updates its obesity strategy to take account of the close relationship between obesity, hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the UK. BAPEN welcomes the EAC’s support of the Patients Association call to create a definition of under-nutrition which includes both underweight and overweight individuals, and a tool for identifying it.
For those looking for advice on eating well on a low budget, the British Dietetic Association provides some useful information:
- Eat well, spend less food fact sheet: www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/eatwellspendless.pdf
- Let’s Get Cooking and Learning Network: https://letsgetcooking.org.uk/
Whilst food insecurity is a significant and growing issue in the UK and the EAC report rightly focusses on the social and economic determinants of malnutrition, it is important to highlight that not all malnutrition is a result of poverty. The EAC report uses BAPEN figures indicating that the number of undernourished people in the UK is estimated to be three million. However, a large proportion of these will be disease-related rather than poverty-related, for instance people with long-term conditions including chronic lung, gastrointestinal and kidney disease or those with chronic progressive conditions such as dementia or cancer.
Dr Trevor Smith, President of BAPEN, says “To combat malnutrition in all its forms, there needs to be a structured approach to screening and care planning across all health and social care settings. Delivering consistent, well-structured screening in all settings can help to improve outcomes and can contribute to cost savings across our health and social care system.”
“The Environmental Audit Committee’s recommendation to appoint a Minister for Hunger is a huge step in the right direction for those of us working towards the prevention of malnutrition in the UK. Whilst it is important to recognise that not all cases of malnutrition are due to social or economic reasons, many are disease-related, the report published by the Environmental Audit Committee covers some extremely important recommendations, the implementation of which BAPEN eagerly anticipates.”
The full EAC report can be viewed here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1491/149102.htm