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Study finds malnutrition risk in young patients

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Nurses must ensure that young patients as well as elderly are screened for malnutrition risk, experts have warned following important UK research findings.

A survey of more than 10,000 patients admitted to hospitals and care homes during three days in September, showed 28% of those in their 70s were at risk of malnutrition. However, so were 27% of patients in their 20s, the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) research revealed.

Even in the lowest risk category, 50-59 year olds, more than a fifth of patients were still in danger of malnourishment.

‘It has been highlighted a lot in the media that it is elderly patients that are at risk of malnutrition,’ research lead Christine Russell told NT. ‘But there’s a danger that people therefore think it’s only a problem for the elderly – what our data shows is it affects people of all ages.’

Early analysis of the data also reveals the highest risk was among patients on cancer wards, with 41% of those admitted to oncology wards deemed at-risk compared to 33% of those admitted to elderly care wards.

Frank Ursell, chief executive officer of the Registered Nursing Homes Association, said: ‘Whether through lack of income, illness or both, many older people do not eat properly and are consequently often malnourished when they are admitted. This has to be picked up right from the start and an appropriate care plan put into place.’

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