Report exposes shocking rise in levels of food-poverty related illness

Thu,20 July 2023
News Health & Social Care Money
New data obtained by The Times has found that cases of malnutrition in the UK have more than doubled in a decade and have quadrupled since 2007/8.

Findings which were obtained under the freedom of information act reveal that from 2022 to April 2023, 10,896 NHS patients — including 312 children — were hospitalised with malnutrition in England. This was exposed alongside figures that showed that people were treated for diseases such as scurvy and rickets, 405 of whom were children.

Last year Department for Work and Pensions data showed that around one in six people in the UK were in relative poverty, measured as “relative low income” before housing costs in 2021/22.

Speaking on the Times’ findings, Dr. Clare Gerada president of the Royal College of GPs said: “If this is indicative of the health of our most vulnerable, then it is shocking. The poorest people in this country are poorer than any other counterparts in Europe . . . and its poor diet.” The report in the Times follows on the recent report from the Food Foundation called the Broken Plate Report 2023 which focuses on the state of the UKs current food system. Their report discovered that the most deprived fifth of the population would need to spend 50% of their disposable income on food to meet the cost of the Government recommended healthy diet, while a third of food and soft drink advertising spend goes towards confectionery, snacks, desserts, and soft drinks compared to just 1% for fruit and vegetables.

Anna Taylor, director of the Food Foundation said: “We have a diet crisis which is in parallel to some of the poorest countries in the world that have got very high levels of undernutrition in children and very high levels of childhood stunting, and we’ve got a similarly proportionate problem which we see manifest in our children.

“We see that the quality of our children’s diets is very poor. We see that across the wealth spectrum but particularly these very marked differences in healthy food consumption between the poorest and the richest children in the UK.”

Dan White policy and campaigns officer at DR UK and one of the leads at the Disability Poverty Campaign Group said: “The reality is that in the UK today, people are having to go without food. According to a recent Family Fund UK poverty report, over half of parents of SEN children are skipping or cutting the size of their meals because there isn’t enough money for food. Disabled people, single parents and those living alone are the worst affected by rising food costs according to the Trussell Trust.”

“We are going back to Victorian times and without urgent and decisive government and food industry action, I fear for the health of families, especially Disabled families, already experiencing the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis. This report surely has to be acted on, food is a necessity not an unaffordable luxury.”