Promoting food intake in older adults living in the community: a review

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007 Dec;32(6):991-1000. doi: 10.1139/H07-067.


Older adults (>65 y) living in the community have the potential to have significant nutrition concerns and deficits owing to the physiological, social, and psychological changes that occur with ageing. However, poor nutrition should not be considered an inevitable consequence of ageing. Older adults are quite heterogenous, including those ageing "successfully", "usually", and at "accelerated" rates. By improving the nutritional status of older adults, significant health and quality of life gains can be realized. These three subgroups of older adults have different concerns and risk factors and thus need different interventions. A substantial amount of research on older adult nutrition needs, determinants of food intake, risk of poor nutrition, and interventions has occurred in the past decade in Canada. The purpose of this review is to summarize this research and identify how nutrition promotion for older adults can be improved. Research to date indicates that the need for nutrition promotion is substantial. A variety of interventions have improved food intake and health of participants, although most programs are provided at a tertiary prevention level. Nutrition screening can help to identify in a timely manner those older adults who may benefit from limited services and which secondary prevention activities need to be increased. Nutrition promotion policy is currently lacking for older adults in Canada and is an important barrier to improving food intake in this growing segment of the population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged / physiology*
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Eating*
  • Health Education* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Promotion* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena