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Self-screening tool to combat malnutrition launched

The British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition's new screening tool will help to identify people at risk of malnutrition in the community.

The British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) has launched a screening tool which allows adults to determine their risk of malnutrition.

A report from BAPEN and the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre published yesterday (November 30) states that the cost of malnutrition in young people and adults in England was £19.6 billion in 2011/12.

Surveys conducted by BAPEN show that almost 30% of patients on admission to hospitals in the UK are at risk of malnutrition and the association said much of this could have been identified and treated in the community.

The web-based screening tool, which is free to use, is a simplified version of the malnutrition universal screening tool (MUST) widely used by healthcare professionals in the UK.

The tool includes a calculator which allows people who have been ill or have lost weight to enter their height, current weight and their weight three to six months ago.

The person can then see their body mass index, weight loss as a percentage and level of risk of malnutrition, from low to high.

Those at high risk are advised to contact their doctor and can download an advice sheet on how to get the most nutrition from the food they are eating.

There are also five steps they can follow to help themselves, including trying milky drinks between meals and before going to bed, and keeping a stock of high calorie foods in easy reach.

The online tool also includes information for healthcare professionals.  

Carers UK director of policy and public affairs Emily Holzhausen said: 'The tool is a great way to raise awareness of the risk of malnutrition and to get families asking the right questions, so they can get the right support. This will make everyone healthier and more confident as a result.'

Christine Russell, who co-designed the tool and is a member of BAPEN’s malnutrition action group, said: ‘If malnutrition can be prevented or identified and treated at an early stage, it could reduce dependency on others as well as admissions to hospitals and other care settings.’

The screening tool has also been welcomed by the British Dietetic Association.

Read more about the screening tool on the BAPEN website

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