Fortified tasty foods for improving health among the sick and the elderly
Malnourishment is a serious problem among patients and the elderly; one in every ten elderly people living at home is malnourished. On average, this figure is 17% for people in institutions, and a staggering 25% for hospital patients. The consequences of malnourishment of the elderly can be very serious: they are slower to recover from illness and operations, they have less resistance to disease and run an increased risk of complications. This can lead to a negative health spiral involving longer admissions, increased reliance on drugs and more complex care requirements.
This year, the Gelderse Vallei Nutrition Alliance (a partnership between Wageningen University and the Gelderse Vallei Hospital) and partners set up the ‘Cater with Care’ project. Cater with Care develops and tests fortified foods that can be incorporated into a regular diet in order to improve the health of the sick and the elderly.
The consortium is converting scientifically reliable knowledge into optimal foods. The partners in Cater with Care are using their knowledge and expertise to look for possible solutions to malnourishment. The companies will conduct research into improving existing products and developing new, tasty and high-quality food products. Various studies will examine the effects on consumption, acceptance, quality of life and nutritional status. The result will be a varied supply of tasty, effective products and new services, which will improve the health of the sick and the elderly at home, in care institutions and in hospitals.
The elderly and patients will be able to choose from a wide range of delicious, fortified foods, while still getting all the nutrients they need. The products will correspond with the clinical needs of the patients and fit in with a regular diet. This requires different products and services from those currently available on the market.
Better products for the elderly
The number of Dutch people over 65 years of age is expected to rise over the next few decades. This will result in greater care requirements, which will become increasingly difficult to meet, in both financial and practical terms. It is essential that older people can continue to live at home for as long as possible. The 'Food and the Elderly' theme at Food & Biobased Research conducts research into products and meal concepts designed to improve the health and wellbeing of elderly people. This will make it physically and economically feasible for this growing group of consumers to lead independent lives for much longer.
More research: Clinical nutrition