Advice for businesses from the Food Innovation Centre on catering for a growing elderly population

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New advice has been published on Healthy Eating for the Elderly to help food and drink businesses develop products for older people.

The fact sheet is one of a series compiled by the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham, providing clear, concise and scientifically reliable information on key topics for small and medium-sized businesses.

The UK population is ageing, and it is projected that by 2050, one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 and over. By 2069 there are likely to be an additional 7.5 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK, compared with 2019 figures.

Elderly people experience a range of challenges to healthy eating due to physiological changes. This could include chewing and swallowing difficulties, dry mouth and dehydration, loss of taste and smell, loss of appetite, reduced oral processing capability, muscle loss, bone strength loss, as well as digestive capability. Health conditions, such as Type-2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, muscle failure disease sarcopenia, dysphagia, and cancer, can also impact. In addition, social-related factors such as isolation, loneliness, and bereavement can also impact on dietary intake in older adults.

“All of this can affect elderly people’s ability to consume the daily required nutrients, causing them potential malnutrition (e.g.undernutrition or overnutrition), as a result, this could also further negatively affect their health conditions and/or accelerate their physiological changes,” explained research fellow Dr Wentao (Kerry) Liu, one of the team of advisors at the Food Innovation Centre, which supports food and drink businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with expert advice and guidance.

“The Healthy Eating for the Elderly fact sheet provides tips and ideas for how businesses can develop products and services to cater for this market, and at the same time, help our seniors to have a healthy diet.”

The Food Innovation Centre, based at the Bioenergy and Brewing Science building at the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington campus, offers free support to small and medium-sized food and drink manufacturers in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire under the Driving Research and Innovation project – a three-year project that runs until the end of December 2022. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via the D2N2 LEP, the project is run by the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences, in conjunction with the Chemistry Innovation Laboratory in the School of Chemistry and Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and in association with the Midlands Engine. It is a unique collaboration project that provides free specialist innovation support to small and medium-sized businesses.

Richard Worrall, who heads the Food Innovation Centre, said: “The Healthy Eating for the Elderly fact sheet is one of a series of fact sheets that we have published to help food and drink businesses innovate and become more sustainable. This might be through new product development, reformulation, the introduction of new packaging or a change in processing. We hope this latest fact sheet will provide food for thought and inspiration for SMEs, and at the same time support a healthy ageing population.”

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