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In line with theme of Brain Awareness Week 2021 “Promoting Access to Services” NAI is highlighting the lack of access to specialist advice about nutrition and diet for people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
In a recent survey of 81 people living with Parkinson’s disease, nearly eight out of ten said their neurologist had never asked them about their diet.
- Almost nine out of ten said their GP had never asked them about diet
- More than eight out of ten have never been referred to a Dietitian since their diagnosis. Only one in ten asked to be referred to a Dietitian. Of the 19 who have seen a Dietitian, more than two thirds were happy with the advice they received.
- More than 60% of respondents have lost weight unintentionally since their diagnosis, despite this only 4 in 10 reported being weighed by their GP or neurologist
- Between 30 and 40% of respondents reported difficulties with either holding utensils or cutting/preparing food.
- Almost 1 in 4 experience problems with choking or coughing when swallowing food. (These issues can lead to weight loss and the risk of aspiration pneumonia)
- Almost 50% were not taking a Vitamin D supplement which is concerning given the importance of Vitamin D for people people with PD, in particular those over 70 and isolating.
- With regard to bowel problems, the most common problems were constipation, wind and/or incomplete bowel movements. Constipation was by far the most common problem, cited by 6 in 10 people. Constipation can cause symptoms to worsen due to poor diet and poor medication absorption.
*Note: 8 out of 10 respondents were over 64 years of age and most have had Parkinson’s for less than 15 years.