Does aging change nutrition requirements?

J Nutr Health Aging. 2001;5(2):70-4.


The current adult guidelines for a healthy diet make no distinctions between adults aged 25-50 y and those aged 51 y and over. The question is whether dietary guidelines ought to be stratified by age, in recognition of the dietary and nutrient needs of the growing population of elderly adults. There are limited data on nutrient requirements of older adults. Aging is accompanied by a variety of physiological, psychological, economic and social changes that may adversely affect nutritional status. Older people have a higher prevalence of chronic disease, take multiple medications and supplements, and tend to be sedentary. Higher prevalence of obesity is difficult to reconcile with sharply lowered energy intakes. While basal metabolic rate does decline with age, lack of physical activity among the elderly is the more likely answer. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid is the key tool for communicating dietary advice to consumers. Researchers at Tufts University have produced a 70+ pyramid to reflect the nutrient needs of elderly adults. An additional focus has been on quality of life issues. Increased longevity is not always associated with continued good health. The Healthy People 2010 Objectives now use quality of life as a national health standard. Whereas health related quality of life (HRQOL) measures assess physical and mental health and their determinants, global quality of life measures focus on life satisfaction. Optimal nutrition promotes both functional health status and mental well-being. Dietary diversity and variety promotes enjoyment and satisfaction with the diet. Regular physical activity promotes strength and endurance, helps to maintain appropriate body weight, and contributes to independent physical functioning. Improving health-related quality of life is a key element in promoting the health and well-being of older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Dehydration / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Quality of Life
  • United States