A lack of knowledge, appetite loss and information overload may contribute to an increased risk of sub-optimal nutrient intake among the elderly, new findings from University College Dublin reveal. Funded by the Health Research Board and published in the Clinical Nutrition Journal (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2020.12.024), the review reveals older adults with nutritional risks are adopting dietary guidelines directed for the wider population, potentially opening nutrient gaps in their diets.
Quality nutrition is essential to support healthy ageing, and necessary intake levels of certain macro-and micronutrients change over a lifetime. Still, community-dwelling adults remain unaware of optimal dietary needs, with undernutrition remaining a persistent issue in older adults. In fact, the review stated that almost one-third (31%) of older adults are reported to face malnutrition and malnourishment risks. Further, appetite loss is associated with minimised food consumption and increased risks of malnutrition. This need gap is a whitespace opportunity for providers of supplemental nutrition products.
Older consumers are searching for information online, rather than going to health professionals, but may not have the background to apply the findings. Thus, causing confusion about the best dietary approach to take.
As consumers age, it is pivotal for them to maintain good dietary habits specific for their age group as physiological changes occur, such as muscle mass loss. According to the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), older consumers could benefit from a higher protein (1 -1.2 g/kg body weight) and energy (30kcal/kg body weight) daily intake. Where diet alone does not meet daily nutritional requirements, ESPEN recommends using oral nutritional supplements (ONS).