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European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA) launches campaign to highlight the challenge of malnutrition in society

The European Parliament today adopted six amendments referencing the need to address malnutrition in Europes population within the report on the White Paper on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related issues.

This reference serves to underline the campaign launched by the ENHA this month. 'Air, Water, Nutrition: It's a Basic Need' seeks to drive forward the issue of eating and nutrition care which was first addressed by a Council of Europe resolution in 2003.

The European Commission must take a holistic approach to nutrition and make malnutrition, alongside obesity, a key priority in the fields of nutrition and health, incorporating it wherever possible into EU-funded research initiatives and EU-level partnerships. explains Professor Olle Ljungqvist, Professor of Surgery, Metabolism & Nutrition at the Karolinska Institute and chair of ESPEN (The European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism).

Malnutrition has an adverse impact on peoples health and wellbeing and represents a healthcare and societal cost equal to that of obesity.. As Europe faces an aging population, with increasing numbers of people over 70, the challenge will grow. The EU27 must look to create coherent policies for nutritional support across health and social care systems, concludes Professor Ljungqvist.

Research suggests that some 50 million people are at risk. Up to 40% of patients in hospitals and between 40 and 80% of people in elderly care homes are at risk to be malnourished. Lack of adequate nutrition in the community, in residential care and in hospitals inhibits patient recovery, lengthens the stay in hospital by 50% - an average of 6 days - and may triple mortality.

The Air, Water, Nutrition  its a basic need campaign was officially launched at the ESPEN 2008 Congress in Florence on 15 September where ENHA, ESPEN and Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI) met relevant stakeholders and discuss upcoming challenges and share best practice. MNI Group grant is 30,000 for the most innovative national initiative to fight malnutrition and increase the awareness of malnutrition.

*References:

Recital A:
whereas overweight and obesity and diet-related disease are becoming growing epidemics and are major contributors to the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in Europe,

Recital AB:
whereas malnutrition, which particularly affects older people, costs European healthcare systems similar amounts as obesity and overweight,

Paragraph 9:
Urges the Commission to take a more holistic approach to nutrition and make malnutrition, alongside obesity, a key priority in the fields of nutrition and health, incorporating it wherever possible into EU-funded research initiatives and EU-level partnerships;

Paragraph 43.
Draws attention to the problem of malnutrition, a state in which a deficiency, excess or imbalance in the diet has a measurable adverse impact on tissue, body shape and body function; notes also that malnutrition is a heavy burden both for individual wellbeing and for society, particularly the health care system, and that it results in increased mortality, longer hospital stays, greater complications and reduced quality of life for patients; recalls that extra days in hospital and treatment of complications due to malnutrition cost billions of euros in public funding every year;

Paragraph 44.
Highlights estimates that show that 40% of patients in hospitals and between 40 and 80% of people in elderly care homes are malnourished; calls on Member States to improve the quantity

and quality of food in hospitals and elderly care homes which will lead to a reduction in the time spent in hospitals;

Paragraph 46.
Calls on the Commission to promote best medical practices, for example through the EU Health Forum, as well as information campaigns on obesity-related risks and abdominal obesity in particular drawing attention to the cardiovascular risks; urges the Commission to provide information about the dangers of 'home diets', especially if they involve the use of anti-obesity drugs taken without medical prescription; calls on the Commission to devote greater attention to the problems of malnutrition, inadequate nutrition and dehydration;

Ends

For further information please contact:

Monika Wcislo: mwcislo@webershandwick.com / +32 2 286 1265

Frank de Man: frankdeman@newyield.nl/ + 31 653 849 885