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Nutritional challenges for older adults in Europe: current status and future directions
- Kehoe, Laura, Walton, Janette, Flynn, Albert
- Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2019 v.78 no.2 pp. 221-233
- adults at risk, calcium, chronic diseases, dietary fiber, dietary supplements, elderly, folic acid, food availability, food choices, food fortification, fortified foods, healthy diet, monitoring, mortality, nutrient deficiencies, nutrient intake, nutritional status, quality of life, saturated fats, social change, sugars, vitamin D, Europe
- Population ageing is rapidly progressing and it is estimated that by 2050 one in every five people globally will be aged 60 years or over. Research has shown that adequate nutritional status can positively impact the ageing process, resulting in improved quality of life and the prevention of chronic disease and mortality. However, due to physiological and social changes associated with ageing, older adults may be at increased risk of nutrient deficiencies. This review aims to investigate the nutrient intake and status of older adults in Europe and to explore the potential role of fortified foods and nutritional supplements in addressing some of the nutritional challenges identified in this population group. The available literature has highlighted unfavourable intakes of total and saturated fat, sugar, salt and dietary fibre together with low intakes and suboptimal status of key micronutrients such as vitamins D, B₂, B₁₂, folate and calcium. Evidence has shown that the consumption of fortified foods and use of nutritional supplements make significant contributions to intakes and status of these micronutrients in older adults. Continued monitoring of nutrient intake and status is important in light of changing fortification practices and food consumption patterns. Future strategies to address the nutritional issues identified in older adults could include the promotion of healthy food choices together with improvements of the food supply including reformulation (fat, sugar and salt), food fortification or supplementation to support successful ageing of our populations.