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Swedish Medical Society – Nutritional Care Symposium 26.11.09 Stockholm


26 Nov 2009


Health & Consumers

Undernutrition in health care and community care homes –
a key priority in the EU health strategy

Almost half of the patients in hospitals and even more in community care homes in Europe are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished. This is reported by the NutritionDay project that determined the nutritional status of more than 70,000 individuals in hospitals and in community care accross Europe. Undernutrition in the elderly and chronically ill is a health problem at the level of obesity in the young and middle aged.

About 40% of patients in hospitals and 60% of individuals in care homes are at risk for or have already developed malnutrition. These findings from Europe are in line with Swedish studies. Malnutrition is a huge health problem all over Europe. The cost of disease related malnutrition is at least as high as that related to obesity in the young and middle aged. Malnutrition and poor nutritional intake are associated with prolonged hospital care, higher health care costs and increased mortality.

A study initated by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism – ESPEN – investigated the nutritional status of more than 70,000 individuals in hospitals and community care homes all over Europe, including Sweden. The Nutrition Day project is a one day study in over 25 countries. The results were presented at the Swedish Medical Associations annual congress in Stockholm at the symposium called ”Undernutrition high on the EU health agenda”

The European ”Fight Against Malnutrition” initiated and lead by ESPEN and the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA) has gained recognition at the highest political level of the EU. The EU parliament voted in October 2008 malnutrition alongside obesity as a key priority in the health strategy for the coming five years. The campaign was recently nominated for the European Public Campaign of the year.

Health and social care professionals have a common responsebility to move this important topic to decision makers at all levels – from the clinical department, through hospital management to local and national political leaders. In Sweden it is pointed out that this topic must become one of the targets for improvement in the national agenda. Routines for nutritional care must be improved, training in nutrition must be mandatory. New guidelines are being produced in Sweden at the moment for this key and basic topic an all types of care.

Olle Ljungqvist
Professor i surgery
Universitetssjukhuset Örebro
Örebro Universitet
Chairman i ESPEN
Tel. 0708483540

Tommy Cederholm
Professor clincial nutrition
Akademiska sjukhuset
Uppsala Universitet
Chairman SWESPEN
Tel. 0702733192

Frank de Man
secretary general
European Nutrition
for Health Alliance


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