Optimizing nutrition in older people

Maturitas. 2018 Jun:112:34-38. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.04.001. Epub 2018 Apr 4.


Older adults are at increased risk of malnutrition, for a variety of physiological and psychological reasons. This has implications for health, quality of life, independence and economic circumstances. Improvements in nutrition are known to bring tangible benefits to older people and many age-related diseases and conditions can be prevented, modulated or ameliorated by good nutrition. However, practical and realistic approaches are required to optimize diet and food intake in older adults. One area where improvements can be made relates to appetite. Encouraging older adults to prepare meals can increase appetite and food intake, and providing opportunities for older adults to eat a wide variety of foods, in company, is a simple strategy to increase food intake. The protein requirement of older adults is subject to controversy and although considered the most satiating macronutrient, it appears that protein does not elicit as great a satiating effect in older adults as it does in younger individuals. This indicates that there is potential to increase protein intake without impacting on overall energy intake. Other areas where simple practical improvements can be made include both packaging of foods that are easy to prepare and the education of older adults on the safe storage and preparation of food. Research into improving the diets and nutritional status of older adults has indicated that many of the strategies can be easily and cost-effectively undertaken.

Keywords: Ageing; Appetite; Diet; Elderly; Nutrition; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Appetite
  • Diet
  • Eating
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control
  • Meals
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Quality of Life