DIAGNOSED cases of malnutrition in Burton have trebled since 2008 – an increase which mirrors a national trend - according to figures obtained by the Mail.
The number of patients either admitted with malnutrition or treated for malnutrition at Queen’s Hospital, Burton, increased from less than five in 2008 to 15 in 2013.
The data was obtained after a Freedom of Information request.
Malnutrition can be caused by a poor diet, a lack of food or illnesses which prevents the absorption of nutrients.
Last month, the health minister Norman Lamb revealed malnutrition cases in the UK rose from 3,100 in 2008 to 5,500 last year – an increase which coincides with increased living costs.
But director of nursing at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Brendan Brown and the malnutrition charity BAPEN put the rise in down to better screening.
Mr Brown said all inpatients are now assessed throughout their time in hospital for signs of becoming undernourished.
He said: “An improved understanding of the complexity of nutrition needs for patients has led to malnutrition often being identified as part of a wider diagnosis in patients.”
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, University of Liverpool academics called the rise in malnutrition a ‘public health emergency’ and said it could be linked to welfare reform.
But a spokesman from BAPEN told the Mail there was no data to prove the link.
The spokesman said: “I think that has had an effect but there’s no data that can prove it.
“We can presume and we can correlate but we have not got any proof.
“Althoug more cases are being reported, one of the reasons is due to more hospital screenings – and that’s a good thing.”