November 23, 2013

I keep seeing stories about mothers who are going without food to give it to their kids, so I imagine we have the same problem here in the U.S. But since we don't have a National Health Service, those starving kids don't get to go to the hospital. Problem solved!

Spiralling numbers of admissions to hospitals in Leeds of patients with malnutrition have been branded “an absolute disgrace”.

But the figures – which have trebled in five years – could be the tip of the iceberg, a politician has warned.

People with malnutrition needed hospital care on 93 occasions last year, compared with 30 in 2008.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive board member for health and wellbeing on Leeds City Council, said: “The numbers being admitted to hospital are shocking and potentially the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that in a wealthy, modern nation we are seeing anybody turning up in hospital in that condition, but the fact we are seeing three times as many now tells us something about the changes to the welfare system, wage stagnation and the way fuel prices have gone up out of all proportion with people’s pay.

“The pressures on ordinary working families in this city are enormous.”

Reasons for the increase include poverty, which can prevent people buying nutritious food, the growing number of older people – many of whom are living in ill-health, as well as greater recognition of the issue by health workers.

A year ago it was revealed that more than 27,000 people in Leeds were suffering from malnutrition, which occurs when the body does not get the nutrients it needs.

Coun Mulherin said they knew a lack of cash meant families in Leeds were being forced to choose between eating or heating their homes.

She said the council was committed to tackling malnutrition, including through its backing of the Leeds Food Consensus, a drive to combat the problem.

A city-wide campaign was launched earlier this year to let older people know the warning signs, frontline health workers have been trained to look out for the condition while they are working with food banks to enable people using them to find out where they can get other help.

The head of a team which works to prevent malnutrition in the city said she was not surprised by the figures – and agreed that financial pressures seemed to be worsening.

Maggie Thatcher would be so proud.

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