Key points from BAPEN’s fourth Nutrition Screening Week survey

'Malnutrition’ in Spring 2011


‘Malnutrition’ was found to affect:

  • 1 in 4 adults on admission to hospitals
  • More than 1 in 3 adults admitted to care homes in the previous 6 months
  • Up to 1 in 5 adults on admission to mental health units in the UK

Most of those affected were in the high risk category.

The overall results are similar to those obtained in the winter (2010), summer (2008) and autumn (2007) Nutrition Screening Week surveys, with the exception of:

  • A lower prevalence of ‘malnutrition’ on admission to hospital
  • A prevalence of ‘malnutrition’ found on recent admission to care homes similar to the 2008 survey which was higher than in both 2010 and 2007.

Nutritional screening policies and practices vary between and within health-care settings, and so ‘malnutrition’ continues to be under-recognised and under-treated.

The ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’) was the most commonly used nutritional screening tool in all care settings. Of centres using a screening tool, ‘MUST’ was used in:

  • 85% hospitals
  • 92% care homes
  • 75% mental health units

There continues to be a lack of awareness of standards relating to weighing scales in all settings.

Republic of Ireland (ROI)

The results from the second Nutrition Screening Week survey in the ROI showed comparable results to the UK but when comparing results from the UK and ROI factors affecting admission to care in the different healthcare systems should be borne in mind.

Across the UK and ROI much of the ‘malnutrition’ present on admission to institutions originates in the community. Consistent and integrated strategies to detect, prevent and treat ‘malnutrition’ should exist within and between all care settings.

The 2011 survey and audit on nutritional screening was undertaken by BAPEN in collaboration with the British Dietetic Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, and with support from the Welsh Assembly Government, Scottish Government, the Chief Nursing Officer in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health in England, BAPEN’s Core Groups and the National Patient Safety Agency.

The results of this and the previous Nutrition Screening Week Surveys (2010, 2008 and 2007) should be regarded as interim results. It is planned to amalgamate all the data obtained in the four seasons, and analyse them together to obtain a more robust picture of ‘malnutrition’ in the UK. The results of the 2010 and 2011 Nutrition Screening Week surveys will also be amalgamated to provide a more complete picture of ‘malnutrition’ in Ireland.

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