THE number of kids in Scots hospitals suffering from malnutrition has more than doubled in the last five years.
According to the Scottish Government 72 under-16s were discharged from hospital suffering malnutrition last year, up 47 per cent on the previous 12 months and 132 per cent higher than five years ago.
Last year more than one child a week fell victim to some form of nutritional deficiency including anorexia, nutritional anaemia and malnutrition-related diabetes.
And concern is mounting among campaigners that some parents are not feeding children proper foods.
They say that an increasing number of parents are feeding their children processed meals which are high in fat, salt and sugar but low in protein vitamins and minerals.
But charities say that parents cannot afford to pay for fresh food because of rising unemployment and soaring grocery bills.
John Dickie, of the Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, said:
“Families are struggling to feed their children a balanced diet.
“This is one of the reasons why we’ve been so keen to see councils delivering free school meals to children in primaries one to three. “
But Tam Fry, of the Childhood Growth Foundation, which monitors children’s weight, added:
“Many parents haven’t the vaguest idea what nutrition is about.
“It’s also important to note that a person may be both obese and hugely deficient in nutrition. “
In 2009 Save the Children raised concerns that families were facing malnutrition because of rocketing food prices.
And now the price of fresh fruit, veg, meat and fish has risen faster than wages and benefits.
The charity’s Douglas Hamilton said:
“The latest stats show 90,000 children in Scotland live in the most severe poverty and the poorest parents are struggling to provide for their children on less than 35 a day.
“We fear rising prices combined with the withdrawal of key benefits will make it harder for parents to provide for their children. “
The Lothians and Greater Glasgow and Clyde are among the worst hit areas.
But now the two health boards have launched schemes aimed at helping families eat a balanced diet.
Dr Alison McCallum, of NHS Lothian, said:
“Our Eat Right project in West Lothian is an excellent example of how we engage with the local community to improve their health and we fund and support similar projects across Lothian. “
Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, added:
“We support a number of community-based projects designed to help families eat more fruit and veg. “