Jan 15, 2024

Malnutrition Awareness Week 2023 – discussing the importance of nutrition with meal supplier apetito

To coincide with Malnutrition Awareness Week 2023, we speak to dietitian Sophia Cornelius from Oomph! partner apetito about the importance of nutrition 

To coincide with Malnutrition Awareness Week, we’re discussing the importance of nutritious meals for care home residents, and the significant impact that malnutrition can have on them. We believe that everyone, especially older people, deserve a nutritious diet, and our partner, apetito, agrees. 

apetito's mission is to provide meals that are packed with quality, nutritious, sustainably sourced ingredients that are all created by in-house chefs and dietitians to guarantee that as well as being highly nutritious, they are also delicious! 

We spoke to Development Dietitian for apetito, Sophia Cornelius, to discuss the challenges posed by malnutrition, the importance of raising awareness around the issue and how apetito approaches malnutrition. 

“Malnutrition is highly prevalent, particularly in older adults,” said Sophia, who is also a HCPC registered dietitian with several years' experience working in the NHS, “and with an aging population this figure is likely to increase.  

“Unfortunately, the symptoms of malnutrition are so easily attributed to aging, for example, tiredness or poor mental clarity, which is why it is referred to as a hidden disease. Increasing awareness of the dangers and risk factors is important and supports earlier diagnosis.” 

Malnutrition in older people: the facts 

  • It is estimated that 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 are malnourished or at risk of malnourishment, which amounts to over one million older people in the UK 

  • Data demonstrates that prevalence of malnourishment of older adults in care homes was reported to be 36%.  

  • Consequences of malnourishment are often more GP visits, more hospital stays and re-admissions, longer recovery time and increase of infections and other complications 

  • Malnutrition is reported to cost the NHS and care sector over £22 billion a year – read the full story here 

As the leading food service company in the UK, supplying delicious and nutritious meals not just to care homes but also nurseries, schools and hospitals, apetito provides food to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Their sister company, Wiltshire Farm Foods, also provides a frozen meal service direct to the door, with over 330 delicious meals and desserts to choose from. 

apetito sample menu

Just an example of the wide variety of weekly menu choices available with apetito

For both companies, tackling malnutrition lies at the heart of their goal to provide nutritious meals to the most vulnerable members of society.  

The partnership between Oomph! Wellness and apetito means that even more focus can be put on the importance of nutritious diets in a care home setting; Sophia believes that health and social care professionals are well placed to recognise someone who may be at risk of malnutrition, and understanding the importance of nutrition enables them to support and educate someone or signpost them to appropriate services if needed.

  • There are also many cooking activities available on the Oomph! Wellbeing and Activities Platform. To find out more, just click here to book a demo 

As a dietitian at apetito, Sophia works hand in hand with the in-house chefs to create recipes that are not only delicious but meet the nutritional standards of the Nutrition and Hydration Digest. Specialist ranges, such as Mini Meals Extra and Softer Foods, have been developed to cater for those who need energy dense meals in smaller portions or require modified textures due to swallowing difficulties. 

Access to nutritious food in the variety necessary to accommodate the needs of those using the services in a care or hospital setting can be challenging, as Sophia explained: “People in these care settings are likely to be living with acute or chronic health conditions, which predisposes them to malnutrition and when combined is associated with poorer outcomes and a reduced quality of life. Providing a sufficient variety of meals that cater to dietary needs and preferences is challenging but important to prevent malnutrition in these settings. apetito’s range of over 200 soups, mains, sides, and desserts prevents menu fatigue as well as having suitable options for dietary needs including gluten free, vegan and easy chew.” 

But how does apetito demonstrate what good, nutritional foods are? “apetito meals have diet coding's that make it easy for our customers to identify meals that are suitable for certain diets,” said Sophia. “For example, there is ‘energy dense’, ‘healthy choice’, ‘easy to chew’ as well as our recent edition of the ‘higher protein’ coding. 

“Our Wiltshire Farm Foods range all use the traffic light system to help support our customers make informed meal choices; they also have symbols which identify specific diets including vegetarian and gluten free.” 

When it comes to specific meals that Sophia would recommend for someone with malnutrition, naturally, there is a strong focus on nutrition for Sophia and apetito. She said: “We are very proud of all our meals and recipes at apetito and Wiltshire Farm Foods, and we are proud to be serving some of the most vulnerable people in society. While nutrition naturally plays the key role in all our meal development, some of our meals are designed specifically with malnutrition in mind, such as our Mini Meals Extra range.  

“These meals are all ‘energy dense’ (contain over 500 calories per meal) and they each contain at least 20g of protein per portion, whilst being in a smaller portion size than our standard meals. This makes our Mini Meals Extra range a good choice for people who need additional nutrition but may have a smaller appetite.”    

Read here to learn more about apetito’s care home meals and dining experience 

January 15, 2024

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