7 April 2021: Increasingly known as the silent epidemic, malnutrition affects thousands of Australians going about their daily lives, with many completely unaware they’re at risk of, or have, this serious health condition which affects approximately 10–30 per cent of the population.1
On the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Health Day, results of a new consumer survey2 amongst Australian adults indicates 83 per cent don’t think they themselves, a family member or a loved one living is at risk of malnutrition, a concerning finding that accounts for the gap increasingly being referred to as the ‘missing malnourished’.
Despite the known incidence of malnutrition rising in Australia year-on-year, diagnosis rates remain low, which could be because the majority of Australians are unaware they could be at risk, don’t know what the symptoms are, or both.
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist and Missing Malnourished campaign spokesperson, Jaime Rose Chambers says: “Malnutrition can affect anyone at any age but we’re at greater risk as we age and with certain illnesses. It occurs when a person’s diet doesn’t include enough nutrition or the right balance of nutrients, such as energy, protein and vitamins, because of a poor appetite, or being unable to eat certain types of food. This can cause serious health problems and affect immunity, recovery, and wound healing.”
In the same survey2, Australians correctly identified losing weight, weakness and losing muscle, as signs of malnutrition. However, only 5% of people are aware of ALL the signs of malnutrition and 11% of respondents are NOT aware of any of the signs of malnutrition.
Expert pharmacist and Missing Malnourished campaign spokesperson, Gerald Quigley says to ensure malnutrition is diagnosed and treated, it’s important to know all of the symptoms. “This lack of knowledge is an unacceptable reality in a country like Australia. Sometimes, a person near and dear to you can be malnourished without you even noticing. A lack of appetite, a lack of interest in food, being tired and irritable, showing poor concentration, often