“IT is not enough to eat healthily- you need to eat enough”- that is the message from North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group to elderly people in Basingstoke who could be at risk of malnutrition.

Not getting enough nourishment can be particularly dangerous for older people.

Not eating properly can cause depression, raise the risk of infection and reduce bone and muscle strength.

Nationwide, the problem costs the NHS billions of pounds each year.

Lisa Briggs, CCG chief operating officer, said: “Some elderly people are following a healthy diet, but in some cases they are simply not eating enough.”

She added that some elderly people may have long-term conditions which mean they need to eat more than an average person.

The CCG is urging the elderly and their families and carers to look carefully at their eating habits, as part of the Help Us to Help You campaign, which is supported by The Gazette.

The simplest way of finding out whether you could have an issue with your weight and diet is to measure your body mass index, BMI.

Mrs Briggs said: “It's a simple test and yet it can make such a difference.

“BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. “Two people of the same weight, but with a big difference in height, will have very different BMIs. One might be classified as overweight whilst the other one will be rather thin.”

Your body mass index should be between 20 and 25 to be classified as healthy. Below 18 is classed as severely underweight and above 30 is obese.

The CCG is also encouraging elderly people to make use of a visual tool- the eatwell plate.

This colour codes the five types of food older people need daily and shows how much of the food should come from each food group in order to ensure a healthy diet.

Dr Sam Hullah, CCG Chief Clinical Officer, said: “It's a good idea to try to get this balance right every day, but you don't need to do it at every meal.

“You might find it easier to get the balance right over a longer period, say a week.

“Malnutrition through not understanding how much older people need to eat has been identified as a growing problem and real health risk.”