Dangerous malnutrition: more and more children in Germany are affected

Every fourth inpatient in Germany shows signs of malnutrition

Malnutrition is not just a problem in poor developing countries. In Germany too, more than one and a half million people are affected. Chronic patients, cancer patients and the elderly are particularly at risk. But children are also increasingly affected, especially if they come from socially disadvantaged families.

Problem not only in developing countries

When talking about malnutrition, you mostly come across pictures of children in poor countries in Africa or Asia. But the problem is also common in Europe. Health experts in Great Britain warned years ago of malnutrition due to the growing poverty in the country. And also in Germany, more than 1.5 million people are affected, according to a press release on the “Nutrition 2018” congress.

Deficiency symptoms from one-sided nutrition

In Germany, one thinks more of overweight than malnutrition. Nevertheless, the latter is also a major problem with many complications.

As the message says, more than 1.5 million people are affected in this country. Chronically ill people, cancer patients and the elderly are particularly at risk.

But children are also increasingly affected, especially if they come from socially disadvantaged families.

It is not always about the amount of food - even a one-sided diet can lead to deficiency symptoms.

Every fourth hospital patient is affected

"More than one in four patients admitted to a clinic shows signs of malnutrition," says Professor Dr. med. Christian Löser the extent of the problem.

The chief physician of the medical clinic of the DRK-Kliniken Nordhessen in Kassel and congress president of the DGEM (German Society for Nutritional Medicine) has been dealing with nutritional deficiencies for over 25 years.

According to the experts, lack of energy and nutrients influence healing processes: As a result, patients spend longer in hospital, have a poorer quality of life and have a higher risk of death, as studies have shown.

"We can therefore no longer view food as a means to satisfy a basic need, but as a highly effective part of medical therapy," says Ingrid Acker, VDOE Congress President and Vice Chairman of the Professional Association for Oecotrophology (VDOE).

“Nutrition is therapy and prevention” is therefore the motto of this year's congress.

Compensate for lack of nutrients

The so-called “Kasseler Model”, which was developed under Solvers' leadership and has since become internationally recognized, shows how nutritional medical knowledge can be implemented in everyday clinical practice.

Central elements include a screening for malnutrition, which all patients routinely go through when they are admitted to the clinic, established standards for effective nutritional therapy treatment, if necessary, individualized, professional nutritional advice and a wide range of dishes with special, high-calorie menu lines that help patients depending on their nutritional status and individual needs are offered.

Malnourished or malnourished patients receive specially enriched, energy-tight dishes and can also choose from a wide range of snacks, such as freshly made shakes or finger food.

"Our goal is to compensate for the lack of nutrients, to increase the daily energy intake in order to stabilize the nutritional status and thus to promote recovery and avoid further complications," Löser explains.

Treat effectively and sustainably with nutritional measures

Not only the growing overweight, but also malnutrition is a highly relevant problem in the wealthy countries of the European Union.

The Council of Europe pointed this out in 2003 in its pioneering resolution and referred to the associated medical, social and health economic consequences and costs.

Against this background, the EU has launched a large action program called "Stop Malnutrition", which, in contrast to other European countries, is only being implemented slowly in Germany.

"In contrast to obesity, malnutrition diagnosed at an early stage can be treated effectively and sustainably with simple, established nutritional therapy measures," emphasizes Ingrid Acker.

Nutrition specialists therefore demand that the current scientific knowledge about malnutrition be implemented sustainably in clinical and outpatient care as well as in nursing.

The findings must also be anchored in the training and the requirements and structures of hospitals and care facilities.

"Of course, the patient benefits from this first of all, but the model is also an economic benefit for the clinic and the health system," agreed the Conference Presidents Löser and Acker. (ad)

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