New Carers UK report – Unpaid carers: preventing malnutrition and supporting positive nutrition

Carers UK has released a new report with the support of Nutricia that will provide new insight on unpaid carers’ views and priorities when caring for relatives and friends who are underweight or overweight.

Diet, nutrition and hydration is an under-recognised issue across the UK, but better and earlier interventions, information, advice and support could transform the lives of people needing care as well as their families who support them.

Using the results of nearly 8,000 unpaid carers, our results found that:

  • One in seven carers (14%) were caring for someone with a disability or illness who was underweight.
  • 39% of carers were caring for someone who was overweight.
  • A large proportion of carers worry about the diet and nutrition of the person being cared for – between half of all carers to eight out of ten depending on the area of worry.
  • Carers of people who were underweight were most likely to be worried about diet, nutrition and hydration.
  • Those most likely to be underweight tended to be older people, the carers’ parents or parents- in-law and not living with the carer.

The report provides key recommendations that are deliverable and achievable across different health and care structures as well as through services in the UK, regardless of where the carer and the person being cared for lives. These include overarching recommendations relating to diet and nutrition as well as specific recommendations to support carers of people who are underweight or overweight.

The full report can be found here.


For my son, now 20 stone, the GP does the annual health check and gives it to the provider. I’m ignored. LD Health say they’ve done a mental capacity assessment. I was not present, no minutes provided. He knows what is healthy food so no action, he has capacity in in their eyes. Only a recommendation that they cut portion size of meals, totally the wrong advice, he needed MORE veg, not carbs. He grew up on home grown organic veg. However, staff feed him things like sausage and mash. No veg! He put on 6lbs in one week, anothe week he ate 34 Weetabix. No action taken. It’s actually agency staff that need training, after all if they fed him a decent meal he wouldn’t want to snack.
A few weeks ago I asked SSD who is ultimately responsible. Complaints Officer (yes, the same one!) told me “no one”. On Friday, he said it was SSD’s responsibility. All very well, but without any allocated care manager, how does that work in practice?!

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S is the same, however if the choice is different flavours of pasty for college lunch ….

This is so true. At S’s last non-review when I raise his weight and healthy eating the deputy manager said they needed to do some healthy eating education with the guys - umm no - it’s the staff who needed the training - in how to shop and cook. Instead of buying cheap Aldi pasties, nuggets, burgers, chips etc and bunging them in the oven day after day - they need to learn how to make simple nutritious meals.

S knows more about this than them and he eats healthy, balanced meals at home. He loves cooking - I wish they utilise his skills.

He is still gaining weight because of the rubbish he eats at college.

On Friday he only did 2560 steps from the time he got up until the time I picked him up in the afternoon! I did more and I spent a lot of Friday driving.

Same here. My adult daughter has been slowly losing weight while I’ve been supporting her this last nineteen months after a care agency breakdown. Her weight went up to eighteen stone with them, sausage and mash, chips and burgers, white bread etc… She loves lots of veg and is happy with a reduction in carbs. Tried a new agency last week, straight out and spent £14.70 on a meal and soft drink, which she vomited straight back ! Then later went for a happy meal !! Staff will sit and talk for half an hour about ordering nail stickers for her but will not chop a few veg. I have to clear her fridge of wilted stuff. So frustrating.

My husband’s weight went down to 8st at one stage but it is now nearly 10st. We did get a dietician who was fantastic and she did prescribe the Fortisips which really help when husband does not want to eat.

However, the last few months, he has been eating a huge amount of sweets and sugar - fruit pastels, chocolate and chocolate biscuits - whole packets in one sitting. He was borderline diabetic as in pre diabetic back in December 2021 but would not go for the telephone support course - in fairness he is very deaf. He has now been put on steroids for his Polymyalgia and I am concerned that he could be at risk of diabetes. He has 4 sugar’s in his coffee too. I do feel somewhat isolated but I hope that the Surgery will do regular blood tests and in fairness, GP did say that after another 2 weeks on the 15mg she wants to look at gradually reducing. Trying to work out what he will and wont eat is a nightmare as it changes day by day.

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Maybe a nutritionist can help.

Husband had phone consultations with a dietician for several years - she did at least get him on Fortisips but she had no success in getting him to eat a better diet. She retired but was very senior and very patient.

I am worried husband may be at risk of diabetes given the amount of sugary food he has started eating - whole packets of biscuits and bars of chocolate plus fruit pastals most days plus 4 sugar’s in his coffee. Little I can do but hopefully now he is on steroids they will do regular blood tests. At the moment, he buys these himself as we go to the shop near the GP Surgery partially because I am so fed up trying to work out what to put on the online order. I thought seeing food would prompt him to have a more varied diet and he has had several appointments for blood tests and follow ups in the last few weeks. Plus Morrisons’ Daily is next door to the Community Cafe where we have our other Book Club.

He has ‘mental capacity’ and dare not risk him becoming violent if I challenge him so just stepping back.

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People with learning difficulties die much earlier than the rest of the population, sedentary lifestyle leading to obesity, poor nutrition are major causes. The Department of Health have launched a new preventable deaths campaign. A while ago I asked the Health LD Team, the Social Services LD Team, and the Partnership Board how with will be put into practice? As yet, no response.

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Sadly, that sounds about right. There used to be an online document that argued against the misuse of ‘mental capacity’ and ‘they are an adult and they have a right to choose’ arguments often used by social care staff of those with a LD or autism as a get out clause to offering and providing healthy options and meals. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it awhile ago. If anyone comes across it - please post a link.

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M grew up on home grown organic veg, when he comes home I cook extra, put them in a dish and leave them on the kitchen table and he eats them cold, if they last that long of course. I keep telling people that veg is not punishment food, but staff seem to think differently.
DoH guidelines say we should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
ll agree that M should have this, but staff choose the menu. there are many veg in “sausage and mash”!

I asked them to take him somewhere nice for a really good meal, on his birthday. There are several pubs near his home that do excellent food. Where did they take him? Macdonalds!!!

hi Helena my husband has diabetes and sometimes he don’t feel like eat