Featured Image Credit: Rhys Blanchard

The PaperWeight Campaign launched by Age UK Salford has now helped over 1000 malnutritioned Salfordians maintain a healthy diet

This week marks the second annual Malnutrition Awareness Week, launched by Age UK Salford’s malnutrition awareness conference. Here it has been announced that 10 percent of people, aged 65 and over, are malnourished.

Findings from a yearlong study by Age UK Salford, nutrition watchdog BAPEN and The Nutrition Task Force have also shown that 78 percent of people wouldn’t feel comfortable questioning an abnormally slender elderly neighbour on their weight.

The issue is frequently understated with the main victims being older members of society who are often secluded or less active.

The Malnutrition Task Force, a team of malnutrition experts, claim that NHS England spends £19.6 billion on the epidemic; twice the amount spent on obesity.

Attendees of the conference included health consultants, nutrition experts, elderly people and carers.

Celebration was shared for Age UK Salford’s PaperWeight Armband Campaign, which since it’s launch in 2015 has helped over 1000 identify as malnourished and set them on a route for better health.

Emma Connolly, Programme Director at Age UK Salford said:

“The PaperWeight Armband that we have developed here in Salford is an important and useful tool to help people see if somebody may be a bit thin, and to start a conversation about weight and appetite.

“Over a thousand people in the Greater Manchester area are now using it, our message is, we all need to start having these conversations.”

The campaign seeks to act as a gateway to uncomfortable conversations around someone’s weight or appearance.

If the two red lines on the band meet when it’s wrapped around a person’s non-dominant arm, it shows a BMI of less than 20. This means they’re underweight and malnourished.

The conference was also told that often signs go unnoticed as many believe weight loss and frailty is a natural part of aging.

Dianne Jeffrey, Chair of the Malnutrition Task Force, addressed the importance of facts on the matter:

“Issues around older people, appetite and weight loss are so often misunderstood.

“We desperately need to get the message across that it is not normal to lose your weight or lose your appetite as you age.

“It’s so important to be vigilant, so look out for the subtle tell-tale signs such as loose rings, dentures and clothes and a lack of interest in food.”

Margaret McKenna, 88, used the band to help monitor her weight through periods of malnutrition.

She praised the simple yet effective scheme: “It was great because depending on how tight my armband was let me know how much I could eat. I have put on weight which is brilliant for me.”

Margaret McKenna, 88, was identified as malnourished through the use of the PaperWeight Armband. Credit: Rhys Blanchard

The PaperWeight campaign may have made it’s mark on the older population of Salford, however it is estimated that 3 million people are at risk of malnutrition in the UK.

If you are looking for support and guidance on malnutrition, please visit their website.

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