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Malnutrition and 'Victorian' Diseases Are Soaring in England 'Due to Food Poverty and Cuts'

    An 1832 portrait of a cholera victim. (D Wellcome Images / CC BY-SA 3.0)


Since 2010, cases of malnutrition have doubled and other “Victorian” diseases are soaring in England as a result of cuts to social services and rising food poverty.

Statistics from Britain’s National Health Service reveal that 7,366 people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition between August 2014 and July, compared with 4,883 cases during the same period from 2010 to 2011—an increase of more than 50 percent in just four years.

In addition, cases of diseases rife in the Victorian era, including scurvy, scarlet fever, cholera and whooping cough, have also increased since 2010.

From the Independent:

Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, which runs a nationwide network of foodbanks, said they saw “tens of thousands of people who have been going hungry, missing meals and cutting back on the quality of the food they buy”.

“We meet families from across the UK struggling to put enough food on the table and, at the extreme end, you get people who are malnourished,” he said. “We often see parents who are going without food so that they can feed their children, and these parents often struggle to afford enough nutritious food for their children, too. We don’t think anyone should have to go hungry in the UK, which is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians across parties to find solutions to the underlying causes of food poverty.”

Dianne Jeffrey, who chairs the Malnutrition Task Force, an independent expert group, and charity Age UK, said the rise in hospital admissions for malnutrition was “deeply distressing”.

“Older people and professionals often incorrectly assume that losing weight and having a reduced appetite are just a normal part of aging,” she said. “Much malnutrition is preventable, so it is totally unacceptable that estimates suggest there are at least one million older people malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Cuts to social care mean many older people are being left to cope on their own.”

Admissions for malnutrition nationally were highest among men in their sixties, followed by those aged over 80, and among women in their fifties, followed by those in their forties. Patients admitted with gout have also increased by 60.5 per cent, from 65,387 from August 2010 to July 2011 to 104,972 in the same period in 2014 to 2015.

The Fabian Society has accused the Government of lacking a strategy to combat food poverty and said proposed tax-credit cuts could become a bigger driver of food insecurity than low wages.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Unless the Government backs down over tax-credit cuts, we are likely to see the number of malnourished people climb.”

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

Roisin Davis
Róisín Davis is a literary agent, writer, and editor based in New…
Roisin Davis

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