In 2016, malnutrition was listed as a contributory factor in 351 deaths in the UK, and the main cause of death in 66 cases, up from 59 the previous year and the highest figures in a decade. Many of the cases in which malnutrition contributes to a death involve older people who are unable to feed themselves adequately due to frailty and social isolation.
Caroline Abrahams, a director of Age UK, has reported that a third of elderly people admitted to hospital or care homes suffer from some degree of malnutrition. Amid a global food surplus, the issue is not a shortage of food for people – but a system that fails to distribute food, or to care for the vulnerable. Age UK estimates that in the last five years there has been a £160 million cut in spending on social care for the elderly. This comes alongside year-on-year cuts in local government spending, which have increased pressure on family members and unpaid carers, and left over a million over-65s without access to the care they need.
A civilised society would use its wealth to care for the vulnerable and aged. Tax the rich to fund social care!