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Eating in the Elderly

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Handbook of Eating and Drinking

Abstract

Although having a good diet is recognized to be important for successful aging, malnutrition is one of the highest threats to the health, autonomy, and well-being of older adults. Several medical associations and public policies have proposed dietary guidelines directed at elderly people to ensure a healthy nutritional status and prevent the onset of disease. However, several studies have demonstrated the inadequacy of food intake in the elderly population. A decline in energy and protein intake is frequently observed with aging, in particular for the very old and/or dependent people. The aging process, even when it takes place normally, is associated with several changes likely to have an impact on food intake and the nutritional status of the elderly people such as impairment in appetite regulation, oral health, and chemosensory perception. Beyond these changes, the life of an elderly individual is marked by “breaking points” which may have a social origin (e.g., retirement, widowhood, fall in income) or a medical origin (e.g., onset of a disease, dementia). These breaking points are likely to disrupt their lifestyle habits and in particular their eating habits, leading to new eating habits, which are sometimes inappropriate and at the origin of unbalanced diet. In the context of an aging population, it is therefore crucial to combine meal interventions and food development with nutritional strategies to stimulate appetite and sustain food intake in the older individuals, in order to support active and healthy aging.

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Sulmont-Rossé, C. (2020). Eating in the Elderly. In: Meiselman, H. (eds) Handbook of Eating and Drinking. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-14504-0_37

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