Exploring malnutrition in later life in the Western Isles of Scotland

  • Crabtree, Daniel R (PI)
  • Carolan, Clare (CoI)
  • Johnstone, Alexandra M (CoI)

Project Details

Description of project aims

Malnutrition - in this context referring to a lack of intake of nutritional requirements leading to loss of body mass and function - affects approximately 1.3 million older adults in the UK, with over 100,000 affected in Scotland [1]. These numbers will rise due to the cost of living crisis, as older people face the prospect of choosing between heating and eating. Strategies to prevent undernutrition and slow its progression are not well established.

Data released by National Records of Scotland in 2021 [7], revealed that the number of people aged ˃65 years across Scotland increased by >250,000 during a 20-year period. While an increase in average age was evident in 32 Scottish Council areas, it was notable that in the Western Isles over 1 in 4 people (26%) were aged ≥65 years, and that a higher percentage of the Western Isles population were of ‘pensionable age’ compared to the national population (Western Isles: 25% vs. Scotland: 19%). It has been predicted that almost 40% of the Western Isles population will be aged >65 years by 2037 [8]. With an ageing population, malnutrition in later life is an imposing challenge for current and future healthcare provision in the Western Isles.

This project will seek to gather the perspectives of older adults and practitioners situated on the Western Isles, to:
• Further understanding of the prevalence and impact of malnutrition - as undernutrition - within the ageing Western Isles community
• Identify and investigate community programmes that address weight and appetite loss in ageing adults
• Develop new connections between academics, practitioners and the public that will enable the co-creation of future research studies

The findings of this initial project will inform the design of multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary projects that will examine the multi-factorial, complex problem of undernutrition in ageing remote and rural communities.

This project is supported by the Scottish Rural Health Partnership.
Effective start/end date1/02/2330/04/23


  • malnutrition
  • rural health
  • ageing


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