12/04/2012 08:49 BST | Updated 12/04/2012 08:51 BST

Hospital Food Not To Blame For Patient Malnourishment, Say Experts

More than a quarter of patients are malnourished when admitted to hospital, says a new report by the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN).

The research concluded that not only is malnutrition an age-wide problem (affecting 26% of those aged between 20-29 years, as well as older patients), it also can’t be blamed on poor hospital food during visits.

“The survey identifies the risk of malnutrition on admission to hospital, so this was not caused by any issues relating to hospital food - though obviously all patients should have support and help at mealtimes if required,” points out Christine Russell, from the charity.

The report says: "The results highlight the need for consistent and integrated strategies to detect, prevent and treat malnutrition to exist within and between all care settings, not just in hospitals."

“If a patient were admitted to hospital at risk of malnutrition and it was not identified, it could increase their risk of complications, increase their length of stay in hospital and dependency on others. It could even increase their risk of mortality,” Russell told the Huffington Post.

In 2011, Dr Tim Bowling, chair of BAPEN, highlighted the importance of ensuring patients don’t make poor food choices: "Whilst menus provided in hospital must be appealing and the food served nutritious, what is even more important is how much of the food and drink chosen by and presented to patients has actually been consumed."

BAPEN has been directly involved with the development of hospitalfoodie, a programme that aims to address the challenge of delivering nutritional care to patients.

Across the world nearly half a billion children are at risk of "devastating and irreversible" damage from malnutrition, the Huffington Post recently reported.

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