Malnutrition Week with new dietitian Emily Boyle TDHS

Malnutrition Week, with new dietitian Emily Boyle

Malnutrition can impact people of all ages, shapes and sizes – sometimes affecting the most unlikely of people, according to Timboon and District Healthcare Service’s (TDHS) new dietitian Emily Boyle.

Yesterday marked the start of Malnutrition Week (6-9 Oct) and Ms Boyle said it was important community members knew the signs of malnutrition and how serious it can be.

“We need individuals to be aware that you often can’t tell if someone is malnourished just by looking at them. Often, they might look well and not be aware,” she said.

“Malnutrition occurs when an individual doesn’t meet their body’s nutritional requirements…when they don’t consume enough energy (calories/kilojoules) or protein.

“This has significant health complications – in fact research shows that between 30 and 60 per cent of people in hospital are suffering from malnutrition. It can be a cause and consequence of ill-health.”

Ms Boyle said Malnutrition Week was an opportunity for community members to think about themselves, family members and friends who might be showing signs.

“Common signs are eating less, losing unintentional weight, a reduced appetite and decreased enjoyment of food,” she said.

“Causes can be social isolation, which is particularly relevant at the moment, dementia, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing or just not having enough food or drink to meet your body’s nutritional requirements.

“Malnutrition is serious and can contribute to impaired physical and cognitive function and reduce clinical outcomes such as recovering from illness or disease. Delayed wound healing is another outcome and more generally a decreased quality of life”

Ms Boyle said there was a long list of reasons why a person’s nutritional requirements could change and therefore lead to malnutrition.

“For example, individuals after surgery or undergoing cancer treatment have an increased requirement for protein and energy,” she said.

“But there are lots of other times people will have specific requirements and I can work with people to come up with some realistic goals to help manage that.

Dietitian Connection is kicking off its inaugural Malnutrition Week campaign this year with the theme ‘Have we missed a diagnosis?’. The campaign spotlights the common malnutrition conundrum of patients (young or old) appearing relatively healthy, only to show several signs and symptoms of malnutrition once you do a little bit of digging.

Community members can self-refer to Ms Boyle by calling reception on 5558 6000 or access her services via referral from their GP.

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