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Launch of Paperweight Armband in Greater Manchester

Published on 14 December 2018 10:16 AM

The Paperweight armband, a simple tool used to detect malnutrition has been launched in Greater Manchester and it will be rolled-out in five areas: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport. 

The armband is a small strip of paper which can be wrapped round a person’s arm and is simple to use by professionals who come into contact with someone who may be showing signs of malnutrition including carers, housing providers, pharmacists, fire service staff and local volunteers.

Malnutrition can result in weight loss and low body weight, decreased energy levels, reduced mobility, increased likelihood of falls and ill-health, and a worsening of the ability to recover from illnesses.

Although these consequences are often dismissed as a natural part of the ageing process, they are having significant impacts on many local people’s health and wellbeing, and on public services:

  • Over 60,000 people in Greater Manchester are thought to be affected by malnutrition
  • It costs Greater Manchester’s health and care services over £1.1bn every year, and almost £20bn nationally
  • The costs of malnutrition to the NHS are twice those of obesity
  • The exact figures could be even higher as malnutrition often goes unnoticed and untreated 


Once malnutrition is identified, small changes to an individual’s diet can help them gain weight before more serious potential consequences take hold.

Malnutrition is also linked strongly to loneliness – described recently by Prime Minister Theresa May as “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time”. Almost a fifth of over-75s go three months or longer without having someone to dine with, and one in 10 of those admit they have less of an appetite as a result. 

In Salford, activities have included the chance to join a ‘lunch and learn’ group organised by local charity Inspiring Communities Together. Once a month, over 65s come together to enjoy a meal alongside children from a local nursery while learning about eating and drinking well in later life from a hospital dietitian in a social environment.

Kirstine Farrer, Consultant Dietitian at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, helped develop the paperweight armband and its accompanying programme of support. She said: “I am delighted to see my very simple idea come to fruition and help raise awareness about preventable malnutrition in frail older adults. This has given us traction to engage public health colleagues in this important work and also showcase an example of dietitians working in partnership with public health, local commissioners and Age UK Salford. We need to enable carers and older adults to address this in the community and we are passionate about ensuring Paperweight Armband is the vehicle to open the conversation in the community. We are confident this programme will succeed.”

Dave Haynes, chief executive of Age UK Salford which managed the introduction of the paperweight armband in the city and is now taking forward its wider roll-out, said: “Needless suffering, neglect and inconsistent standards of dignity are unacceptable and we urge you to champion good nutrition locally. Anyone can do this by simply looking out for the signs of malnutrition, including poor appetite, unintentional weight loss and thin arms or legs. If you notice these signs contact your local Age UK or visit the Age UK Salford website and look at the tips in the Are You Eating Enough? Booklet.”

Members of the launch team:

Emma Connolly, Programme Director, Tony Ward, Dietitian Salford Royal Foundation Trust, Bernadette Elder, CEO Inspiring Communities Together, Helen Chambers, Public Health Strategic Manager, Salford City Council