Treat loved ones this Easter to fight malnutrition

IN a bid to help curb high rates of malnutrition among older Australians, dietitians have given the green light this Easter to spoil loved ones who may need a few extra kilojoules.

The call comes as latest figures reveal malnutrition affects up to 1.7 million older Australians.

Dietitians Association of Australia Spokesperson Milena Katz says these figures are shocking in a developed country like Australia, but not surprising.

"Malnutrition is often overlooked or forgotten in the community, in aged care facilities and in hospitals, but can have a real impact on quality of life," she says.

"It's linked with decreased immune function, poor would healing, muscle wasting and lethargy.

"But with Easter just around the corner, it's timely to remind families and friends that higher-kilojoule foods, like hot chocolate or hot cross buns with spread are okay choices for those either malnourished or at risk."

She says a third of Australians in hospitals aged 65 years and older are overtly malnourished, with a further 50% at a high risk of malnutrition, while in the wider community, the condition affects almost 10% of older Australians with another 40% considered at high risk.

"A decrease in muscle mass affects strength and ability to function independently. Getting enough protein and energy, or kilojoules, each day can help reduce muscle wastage," she says.

Try these Easter treats for loved ones who need building up:

  •  Hot chocolate made with full-cream milk (and if you like, a scoop of milk powder added in)
  •  'Easter' eggs - scrambled (with cheese added), fried or boiled, on toast spread with margarine
  •  Hot cross buns with margarine, jam and cream
  •  Good-quality chocolate Easter treats
  •  And if you're really game, try a hearty rabbit stew or ragu!

Ms Katz says an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can help identify people who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, and work with them and their families to make sure they get the advice and support they need.

Visit Find an APD on the Dietitians Association of Australia website to find an APD in your area.


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