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Originally published January 22 2010

Prisoners Have Better Diet Than Some Hospital Patients

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Prisoners in British prisons get better nutrition than patients in the country's hospitals, according to a study conducted by researchers from Bournemouth University.

"It's incredible that so many hospitals are failing to serve healthy meals," said Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb. "If prisons can serve good food, then so can hospitals."

The study found that the primary problem in hospitals is that no one pays attention to make sure that patients eat the food prepared for them -- as many sick and elderly people either have suppressed appetites or have physical problems that interfere with their eating. Yet no one is designated in most hospitals to assist patients who have trouble eating. A total of 11 million meals are thrown out uneaten every year, the report found.

Food is often prepared hot and then left sitting out until an orderly gets around to taking it to patients, at which point it is often cold and unappetizing. Food may be placed out of some patients' reach, and other patients miss meals because they have tests or other procedures during a facility's only designated meal times.

"Ward staff also don't actually know how much patients are eating because it is domestics who clear the trays away," researcher Heather Hartwell said. "This is an example of fragmentation in hospitals that does not necessarily happen in prisons."

The report found that 242 patients died from malnutrition in British hospitals in 2007, higher than any year since 1997. More than 8,000 other patients were discharged under-nourished.

Hospitals also spend significantly less on each meal than prisons do, the report found. The food at prisons tends to be of higher quality -- high in carbohydrates and low in fat -- and prisoners are more likely to eat communally, which has been shown to increase food intake.

"If you are in prison then the diet you get is extremely good in terms of nutritional content," researcher John Edwards said. 'The food that is provided is actually better than most civilians have."

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