• Country – United Kingdom
     
    The British Dietetic Association (BDA), throughout 2012, is running a brand new UK national campaign called Mind the Hunger Gap.
     
    The campaign involves calling on dietitians and members of the public to highlight the fact that around 1,000,000 (one million) older people in the UK are eating less than one square meal a day.  This figure does not include those older people in a hospital or care setting.  It is those older people living in the community or, as they have become known in the UK, the ‘invisible’ population.
     
    While The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the greatest single threat to the world’s public health, it is still widely believed that malnutrition is restricted to the third world population.  Quite simply, it is not. 
     
    For the first time, the BDA launched Mind the Hunger Gap as an online-based campaign and dietitians are being directed to the campaign website (www.mindthehungergap.com) to download various materials and campaign tools to highlight the issue locally, while the BDA will raise the issue on UK national basis.
     
    While primarily a dietitian-led campaign, the Mind the Hunger Gap website also has various tools that members of the public can use to add their support.
     
    Speaking about the campaign, the Honorary Chairman of the BDA, Helen Davidson, said:
    “Having enough to eat and drink is one of the most basic human needs, yet today in the UK older people living in their own homes are simply being forgotten about or are somehow not being picked up by the system as suffering from hunger.
     
    “Malnutrition and mortality are usually closely linked.  For more than 10 years we have known about the public health scandal that is malnutrition in the UK yet still, vulnerable older people are going hungry day in day out in the confines of their own homes.  This forgotten about population are surviving, if that’s the word, on less than one meal per day and, we all know, that this leads to poor health, rising hospital admissions and a massive financial burden to the NHS.

    “As Honorary Chairman of the British Dietetic Association, I am proud of Mind the Hunger Gap and I call to action everyone to do their bit to get this issue raised in their organisations and communities.”
     
    The Mind the Hunger Gap calls for local and UK national support to highlight:

    • Malnutrition costs over £13 billion across the UK. It is vital to protect current services, and extend provision to reduce these spiralling costs of care packages and readmissions.
    • Protect at least one meal a day by ring-fencing funding for community meal provision at a local level.
    • Dietitians have the expertise to lead the nutrition pathway across the whole health and social care system.
    • Social isolation and fragmented services have left older people excluded and invisible. Food is a basic human right and it’s everybody’s responsibility to stamp out starvation in their community.
    • With social care budgets being devolved for local implementation, there is an opportunity now to plan and promote collaborative solutions at a local level.

     
    The British Dietetic Association would also warmly welcome wider support for Mind the Hunger Gap from international dietetic associations and partners alike.  To become an international supporter of the campaign, just email malnutritioncampaign@bda.uk.com with your details and you will be added to the Supporting Partners page on the campaign website with a free link to your organisation.  You can also use this email address for further information.