Healthy ageing: the story

From small portions and re-sealable packaging to personalised nutrition apps and fresh meals delivered to your door, the growing number of older people in Europe represent a golden opportunity for tailor-made food products and health campaigns. Wageningen University & Research has developed a comprehensive programme for providing food manufacturers, government bodies and healthcare professionals with the knowledge they need to respond to the needs and requirements of this diverse target group.

Comprehensive research approach

Wageningen University & Research has led the way in research into healthy ageing, nutrition and food products for almost thirty years. We adopt a comprehensive approach, cleverly combining different fields – from nutritional physiology, sensory research, epidemiology and public health to consumer studies, food technology and IT – to explore the subject from every angle.

We study the links between food products, eating habits and lifestyle, looking at, for example, the impact of extra protein on retaining muscle mass and bone density, or the role of vitamin B12 in preventing dementia. We also examine actual products and how they are perceived by consumers. How do elderly people react to enriched foods? What is the best size for a ready-made meal? And how can you develop a tasty, high-protein drink that does not become lumpy? We study ways of using modern IT applications to inform elderly people, living at home, about healthy foods and help them devise appropriate diets. In addition, we develop lifestyle programmes for older people, focusing on healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Wageningen University & Research has a panel of senior consumers (SenTo), which is unique within Europe in terms of size and composition. The panel, of more than 800 people between 55 and 93 years of age, from different educational backgrounds and all living at home, provides insight into how groups of elderly people experience, rate, choose and prepare food products and how much of these products they eat.

Partnerships in the Netherlands and abroad

Wageningen University & Research is involved in various initiatives in the Netherlands and abroad. Our experts work closely with other research organisations, hospitals, healthcare authorities, independent healthcare professionals, the corporate sector and insurance companies, placing us in a prime position to put scientific research into practice and vice versa.

Staying healthy for longer

Here at Wageningen University & Research, we expect that food products, information campaigns and lifestyle programmes targeted at vital older people, will soon have a permanent place in the policies of manufacturers, government bodies and healthcare professionals. This target group – older people living relatively healthy at home – will continue to grow in the coming years, and the group is becoming more independent, discerning and empowered. Impending scientific breakthroughs and continuing developments in IT provide a golden opportunity for taking a comprehensive approach that truly responds to the needs and requirements of these baby-boomers, who want to get the best out of their life and stay independent for as long as possible.

Wageningen University & Research’s mission is to improve quality of life. Helping older people to stay healthy for longer fits perfectly with this goal. And we are more than happy to lead this group of older people, manufacturers, government bodies and healthcare professionals in the quest for a healthy future.