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Food Poverty: Malnutrition Diseases on the Increase

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In real terms food inflation is going up, and workers wages are going down. For many, particularly the low paid this means two things: fuel and food poverty.

For many years those on low salaries have struggled with ever rising utility bills, domestic gas and electric have soared in price in recent years and now experts are warning that food poverty is increasing. On both sides of the Atlantic people are feeling the squeeze as the costs of feeding their families and heating their homes continues to rise.

Charities are reporting a massive increase in those using food banks, even in seemingly more affluent neighbourhoods.

The Faculty of public Heath (UK) has reported a 19% increase this year in hospital admissions caused by malnutrition, the real figure is likely to be much higher as older people admitted due to falls etc are often not listed as being admitted for malnutrition as it was not the primary cause of their hospitalisation.

Children, and women of a Muslim background are also more likely to be malnourished than the average person. Rickets in particular is affecting very young children and Muslim women.  The constant use of high factor sun screen on the infants and head to toe clothing on the women, coupled with a diet that is even mildly deficient in vitamin D has seen cases of rickets soar in some areas.

There are dozens of deficiency diseases, too many to list in a general article like this, but almost all of them have no medical reason other than an unbalanced diet. Looking for weight loss as a guide to if someone is malnourished is something that many in the medical profession still do…and it annoys me enormously. It is perfectly possible, and indeed common, to see very chubby, apparently healthy children, who are, in fact, malnourished. Many filling and cheap foods are very high in calories so weight gain, rather than weight loss is common but sadly those foods are more often than not devoid of essential vitamins and minerals.

It’s possible to get dirt cheap snack foods that will fill the kids up, but not contribute one iota to their nutrition. I can see how this happens, strapped for cash, with hungry kids the first aim of most parents would be to make sure that they don’t go to bed hungry.

As we move on from the financial crisis that saw a massive increase in unexpected unemployment and of home repossessions etc, the situation for many is still dire, and is likely to remain so given the lack of decent jobs available and with interest rate rises pending. Some of those currently donating to food banks will most likely get to the point when they cannot afford to continue doing so, some of those people will find themselves in need of help when the winter domestic gas and electricity price hikes are announced in a couple of months time.


The symptoms of malnourishment include:

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme some people were resorting to committing crime “simply to live”.  Statistics show that food theft is increasing and there is no reason to think the trend is going to reverse.

People are getting more and more desperate, and that desperation will cause more and more people to pilfer from food stores. This in turn will cause an even faster rise in prices as the companies involved attempt to recoup their loses, causing a vicious downward spiral amongst those that can least afford it.

Even if you don’t believe that society is going to suffer a major shift in the near future, even if you don’t think that we are going to get hit by a solar flare, or that a war is going to start or that the grid will fail, you need to consider how you will cope if you lose your job, or interest rates rise to the point where your mortgage is costing you hundreds more than it does now.

Storing food at todays prices to use tomorrow is a way of protecting yourself and your family from price hike shocks. Starting a vegetable garden as well as storing food is better still. If you have no experience now is the time to get it, before you actually need it.

Take Care

Liz