Meeting the nutritional needs of elderly residents in aged-care: are we doing enough?

J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(6):503-8. doi: 10.1007/s12603-013-0042-7.


Objectives: [corrected] Institutionalized elderly are at high risk of malnutrition, including those residing in low-level aged-care and able to self-feed. We used comprehensive dietary intake assessments to determine the nutritional adequacy of food served to residents and if food waste contributed to insufficient nutrient intakes.

Design: Cross sectional.

Setting: 18 low-level aged care facilities.

Participants: 199 residents (mean age 86.7 yrs, 76% females).

Measurements: Dietary data using 3-6 day weighed food records. Foods were categorized into main food groups (grains, fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy and 'extra') and quantified based on recommended serving sizes. Chi squared test was used to determine sex differences in proportion of residents below recommended intake levels.

Results: Residents were provided with sufficient serves of fruit (>2) and meats (>1), but not dairy (<3), vegetables (<5) and grain foods (women only, <4), and excess serves of 'extra' foods (>2). Mean dietary intakes did not meet recommendations for calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, folate and dietary fibre with many residents not meeting energy and protein requirements. Sodium intake was up to 3 times higher than recommended, and sugars consumed in excess. Food waste was 0-15% and resulted in men not consuming recommended serves of grain foods. 'Extra' foods contributed substantially to energy intake but provided few of the required nutrients.

Conclusion: Substituting some 'extra' foods for serves of dairy, vegetables and wholegrain foods would improve the nutritional quality of foods, without altering food volume, so is feasible to improve nutritional status in elderly aged-care residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Edible Grain
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Food Services*
  • Fruit
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Micronutrients