Effect of flavor enhancement of foods for the elderly on nutritional status: food intake, biochemical indices, and anthropometric measures

Physiol Behav. 1993 Feb;53(2):395-402. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(93)90224-4.


The irreversible declines in taste and smell acuity that occur in many elderly persons can contribute to inadequate food intake and nutrition that are prevalent among the aged. Although chemosensory deficits cannot be reversed, previous studies have shown that the addition of intense flavors to foods can compensate for perceptual losses and improve food palatability and acceptance. In this study, the effect of sustained (3 week) flavor enhancement of typical institutional foods on the diet, health, and well being of 39 elderly (average age 84.6 SE 0.81 years) retirement-home residents was evaluated. For 3 weeks subjects ate an institutional diet (unenhanced). During another 3-week period, the same subjects ate identical foods to which intense flavors were added (enhanced). The 39 subjects were tested in two groups. For group 1 the unenhanced food period preceded the enhanced food period. For group 2, the order was reversed. Food intake was measured every weekday throughout the study, and the nutritional composition of the diet was analyzed. Biochemical measures of health status were obtained at the beginning of the study (baseline) and following both the unenhanced and enhanced periods. These measures included somatomedin-C/insulin-like growth factor I, transferrin, total T- and B-lymphocytes, and routine blood chemistries. Weight, height, midarm circumference, and triceps skinfold thickness were also measured. Handgrip strength and pinch strength were measured in group 1.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents*
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Smell / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Flavoring Agents
  • Serum Albumin
  • Transferrin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Creatinine