Food preferences in elderly peers may differ, research says

The findings published in appetite ​suggested that a poor appetite in older adults could be an important factor of reduced food intake and undernutrition. The findings could therefore lead to effective strategies to reduce such risks among the ‘vulnerable group’, it said.

The researchers added that among other findings, the preference for non-dairy foods products and a variation for high protein foods were more pronounced for older adults in a poor appetite group than older adults with a good appetite. “They also preferred non-dairy high-fibre foods and solid texture…[and] some combinations over others such as high protein [diets] with variation and high fiber with sauce​,” said Dr Barbara Meij, the lead author of the study.

Increasing the variety of food offered to such individuals could therefore be an effective strategy to stimulate food intake. “The provision of adapted meals and snacks with high variation and color variation could help,” added Meij.

Structure of foods

With regard to the structure of foods, the authors said that they had expected older adults to prefer a liquid texture as they required less chewing and were easier to swallow. But the results suggested that the participants preferred a solid texture, particularly for foods with high carbohydrate content.

A possible explanation for this could be because subjects who had difficulties chewing or swallowing had been excluded from the study. “Chewing and swallowing difficulties are generally highly prevalent in older institutionalized persons, so this is probably a limitation of the generalisability of our findings to this specific population​” said the team.

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