Fingerfoods: a feasibility study to enhance fruit and vegetable consumption in Dutch patients with dementia in a nursing home

Annemijn Visscher, Marieke C.E. Battjes-Fries*, Ondine van de Rest, Olga N. Patijn, Mascha van der Lee, Nienke Wijma-Idsinga, Gerda K. Pot, Peter Voshol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Eating problems are highly prevalent in older patients with dementia and as a consequence, these patients are at greater risk of becoming malnourished. Fingerfoods, snacks that can be picked with thumb and forefinger, could be used to counteract malnutrition in patients with dementia. The aim of this feasibility study was to evaluate whether providing fruit and vegetable rich fingerfoods in the form of recognizable and familiar snacks on top of the normal intake was feasible for both patients with dementia and caregivers as a means to increase patients’ nutritional status. Methods: Institutionalised patients with dementia (N = 15, 93% female, mean age = 85 years) were included in this feasibility study in the Netherlands. The residents received their regular diet supplemented with fingerfoods, comprising quiches and cakes rich in fruit or vegetables, for 6 weeks. Daily fingerfood consumption together with compensation behaviour at dinner of residents was administered with a checklist and food diaries at the start and end of the intervention as dose delivered. Furthermore, caregivers were asked to fill out a feedback form at the end of the intervention to measure fidelity and appreciation of the intervention. Results: Patients consumed on average 1.4 pieces (70 g) of fingerfoods daily, containing 41 g of fruit and/or vegetables. Fruit and vegetable consumption increased during the provision of the fingerfoods and the residents seemed not to compensate this intake during the rest of the day. The intervention was generally positively received by the majority of caregivers, depending on the type of fingerfood and state of the resident. Conclusion: This feasibility study showed that providing recognizable fruit and vegetable rich fingerfoods to patients with dementia seems feasible for both patients and caregivers and could provide a pragmatic approach to enhance fruit and vegetable consumption and total food intake in institutionalized elderly. In an up-scaled study, effects of fingerfoods on nutritional status and quality of life should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number423
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2020


  • Dementia
  • Elderly
  • Fingerfoods
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Nursing homes
  • Nutritional status

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