Why food and drink matters
To live well and continue to perform our daily tasks requires adequate food and drink.
Food and drink is a basic necessity for everyone, without a balanced varied diet the risk of nutritional deficiencies increase.
This page has information on supporting older, vulnerable people around food with information on:
- when, where and who to ask for help
- signposting and referrals
- questions and resources - that may help you have a positive conversation with someone.
Nutritional deficiencies also known as ‘malnutrition’ is defined by
BAPENExternal link as:
A state of nutrition in which a deficiency or excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein and other nutrients causes measurable adverse effects on tissue / body form (body shape, size and composition) and function and clinical outcome.
Here in Leeds, like the rest of the UK, our population is not only growing but also ageing. With 152,600 people aged over 60 and growing we are clear that ageing well is a priority and at any time in Leeds, there are over 16,500 malnourished people. Subsequently the council’s breakthrough project ‘Making Leeds the best city to grow old In’ provides impetus to tackle this problem.
The Older People Food Matters Group (OPFMG) established 2010 is a multi-agency group promoting food and drink messages relevant to older people and where necessary act. In an effort to ensure barriers to nutrition the OPFMG has developed the Leeds Food Consensus.
Leeds Food Consensus
The Leeds Food Consensus seeks to ensure consistent evidence based, person centred food messages for older people. The principles for all food related activity, to enable good health and wellbeing for older people, should focus on enabling, preventing, promoting and maintaining independence.
There are four key messages embedded within the consensus:
- keeping properly hydrated - 6 -8 drinks per day are recommended for most people
- eating for health - eating food appropriate to the stage of life based on the ‘Eatwell’ plate
- being a healthy weight - to some this may mean weight loss, for others to stabilise or to gain weight
- support and enablement - to enable safe eating and drinking through support and assistance as required
We encourage community based services or organisations (voluntary, health and social care) who provide food or promote nutrition to older people to read the ‘Leeds Food Consensus’ and additional information found in the related documents section below. By supporting the consensus you will enable consistent evidence based messages relevant to older people to be promoted across Leeds.
The OPFMG has a diverse membership and we are passionate to engage with further community, health and social care organisations. Becoming a member of the group is a simple process and brings a variety of benefits for your organisation.
Our most recent project is the redevelopment of the 'Improving Nutritional Care Training' course. This training aims to provide a member of your team with knowledge on the four key messages within the consensus and how to provide effective nutritional care.
If you would like to know more about the Improving Nutritional Care Course and becoming a member of the group, please email: email@example.com.
If you are a health and care professional or a volunteer supporting an older or vulnerable person, there are eight key questions (PDF 366KB) that may help you have a positive conversation and find some support for signposting and referrals. If you would like any advice or have any concerns about an older person, you may contact the
Malnutrition Helpline (PDF 446KB) to speak to someone and find out more about support available. This Malnutrition FactsheetExternal link also has useful information. More useful resources can be found in the related documents section below: