AfN North West Study Day: Nutrition for an Ageing Population

AfN North West Study Day: Nutrition for an Ageing Population

The Association for Nutrition (AfN) recently held their North West Regional study day at the University of Chester, which brought together registered nutritionists from different sectors and aspiring nutrition students to discuss ‘Nutrition for an Ageing Population’. The AfN is a registered charity that holds the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists, which aims to uphold evidence-based practice across the field of nutrition across the workforce.  Our Food and Nutrition Lead, Alex Holt, is the joint AfN regional representative for the North West and helped to organise the event. Food Active also held an exhibit at the event, which provided a great networking opportunity to discuss our work with attendees.

In the face of an ageing population, healthy nutrition in the elderly is crucial. It is estimated that by 2038, the over 65s will represent almost a third of the population in the UK. However, there is a lack of research and nutritional guidance for this ageing population. In addition, they are at a higher risk of becoming malnourished for a number of social, psychological and physical reasons. For example, older people may experience dementia, loss of appetite, visual impairment, have difficulty in swallowing food, lack interest in food, or have poor dexterity. Older people may depend on carers to provide food and drink for them, and carers need to know how and what to provide. Also highlighted at the event was the value in the social element of eating and how this may influence nutrition in the elderly; a recent news story in The Times claims that more than 1 million older people are at risk of malnutrition due to social isolation.

Nutritional elements that were discussed included: the need to eat enough, the need for additional protein, relative to body weight, and eaten proportionately throughout the day, the need for calcium, the need for vitamin D as prevention to Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis and healthy eating to reduce the risk of dementia. Headline findings from the Newcastle 85+ report showed that only 20% of participants met their estimated average target for energy intakes, less than 10% met the dietary reference value for dietary fibre, and more than 95% of the participants had vitamin D intakes below the UK’s reference nutrient intake.

The study day ended on a call for education, in the NHS, for carers, and in the general population to improve nutrition in the elderly and promote better quality of life as we grow old.

To keep up to date with upcoming AfN events, follow this link to the AfN website

To find out more about malnutrition in the elderly, read our blog here.

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