Evidence-based dietary guidance and the role of dairy products for appropriate nutrition in the elderly

W.A. van Staveren, C.P.G.M. de Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Food consumption surveys in the elderly come to the general conclusions that most elderly people outside institutions eat reasonably well. There is, however, tremendous variation in health status between older adults. The aging process is complex and influenced not only by factors intrinsic to the individual but also by extrinsic factors. The latter includes nutrition. In the various phases in the aging process, nutritional status and thus appropriate nutrition differ. Undernutrition is a great concern. In community-dwelling people older than 70 years, 5%–10% are undernourished, and for institutionalized elderly, this is up to 30%–65%. The cause is often inappropriate food consumption, and treatment is not always evidence based. National evidence-based dietary guidelines are mainly for healthy elderly people and vary between regions and even between institutes within the same region. To understand these differences, insight is required into the paradigm applied for nutritional science and the designs, selection of the older population, methodology, and endpoints of studies supplying the science behind the guidelines. A European project (Eurecca) compiles and harmonizes dietary guidelines. These activities underpin the need for sound evidence to improve the nutrition of older adults in different health phases. For frail elderly, there is also a plea to take into account results of studies on food satisfaction. First studies in this field show the effectiveness of an adapted social context for meals, appropriate nutritional care, and availability of tasty drinks and foods for selected groups of older adults. Because of the nutrient richness of dairy products and their good taste, these foods are helpful in the diet of healthy as well as frail elderly people
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429S-437S
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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