Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), wrote in his preface to the 2007 UN report, Development in an Ageing World, ‘the ageing of the world’s population is one of the major achievements of modern society.’
For the first time in history, most people can now expect to live beyond 60 years. However, the general consensus is living longer does not mean living well. With increasing age, numerous physiological changes occur and the risk of chronic diseases increases, but poor health does not have to be the dominant and limiting feature of older populations. Many health problems in older age can be prevented or delayed by engaging in healthy behaviours.
The term ‘healthy ageing’ is used widely across the industry, but with little indication to what this might comprise or how it might be measured. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2015 Healthy Ageing Report defines healthy ageing as ‘the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age’. Ageing is, of course, inevitable—everyone grows up! —but there is no ‘typical’ older person as the diversity in the capacities and health needs of older people is not random, but rooted in events through life that can often be modified.
Data from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), presented at Vitafoods Europe 2017, shows consumers are embracing nutrition and supplementation as a self-care method to manage their health. In 2016, 82 percent of consumers indicated they believe they can manage their health conditions through proper nutrition.
The scope of healthy ageing is broadening, and consumers are beginning to realise they need to take responsibility for their ageing process: healthy ageing is becoming a mainstream lifestyle. Embraced across all demographics, the need for products and services to promote healthy ageing is especially trending among millennials. Importantly, nutrition requirements are unique and essential at each stage of life, and every consumer is different. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for nutrition and men and women have vastly different nutritional needs at every stage of life—personalised nutrition is required for an ever-greater range of people.
NMI data reveals eight out of 10 consumers indicate they are taking more responsibility for their health compared to 10 years ago and are learning healthy ageing is more than just the absence of disease. A focus on healthy ageing throughout the lifespan is crucial, with the nutraceutical and functional food industries empowering consumers to look after themselves. Product manufacturers that provide targeted solutions are sure to reap the benefits.
You can learn more about healthy ageing in our Digital Magazine, Opportunity of a Lifetime, and type ‘Healthy Ageing’ into the search bar for more.