CASES of malnutrition in Wigan have almost doubled over the past five years, shock new figures reveal today.
Health chiefs say that since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, they have seen a rise in the number of Wiganers admitted to hospital with malnutrition.
And charity bosses say escalating food and utility prices are to blame for the borough’s food crisis which has seen 23 people admitted to hospital so far this year suffering from malnutrition, compared to 13 cases in 2008.
Wigan charity boss Trish Green, of the Brick Food Bank, said many people helped by her organisation also struggled to pay for gas or electricity.
The Brick charity has given out 3,720 food parcels this year compared to 941 in the whole of last year. And the charity has provided food for 2,983 adults and 799 children this year alone.
Mrs Green said: “We have to ask food parcel recipients if they have electricity or gas to cook with so that we can make up a parcel that is appropriate for their circumstances, and we are finding that approximately 15 per cent do not have any means of heating their food.
“It is not only people on benefits who are struggling but also working families who can’t make ends meet. Where will it all end?
“All our referrals come from other agencies – doctors, schools, housing, and the Life Centre yet we know there must be people out there unaware of the help available, hence the numbers being admitted to hospitals for malnutrition has almost doubling this year.”
Health chiefs in Wigan say they are now putting in place measures to combat the worrying trend.
Wigan Council consultant in Public Health, Dr Paul Turner, said: “We do not have the reason why any of the cases which make up these statistics were admitted to hospital with malnutrition. There are many explanations why someone is admitted with this condition, such as a medical condition that impairs the absorption of nutrients from food.
“A person may be eating an adequate diet but still suffer from malnutrition. Even young people who are fussy about what they eat can end up with a form of malnutrition.”