Older adults, mealtime-related emotions, and functionalities: tailoring protein-enriched meals

Louise C. den Uijl

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Background and aim   

Dietary proteins are of special interest for the heterogeneous group of older adults, since these people do not always have an adequate protein intake. When protein-rich products are better aligned with the requirements of older persons, an adequate nutrient intake is more likely. In this thesis we therefore explored two approaches for tailoring protein-enriched meals to older consumer subgroups; emotion-based and functionality-based. We expected a better ‘product-cluster fit’ (i.e. a more positive meal experience) when the clusters’ meal associations are congruent to their mealtime expectations.

Methods    

We conducted an online survey in which vital community-dwelling older adults (n=392) reported their mealtime-related emotions and mealtime functionality. Using a hierarchical clustering analysis we described clusters within our population. Subsequently, we explored the extent to which the expectations of these clusters can be applied for the development of tailored protein-enriched meals. For the emotion-based approach, we conducted two central location tests (CLTs, n=461) to explore older adults’ food-evoked emotions. For the functionality-based approach we conducted in-depth interviews in order to get further insights regarding functional mealtime expectations and attitudes towards proteins and protein-enrichment. Based on the latter insights we tailored PE meal concepts to two functionality-based segments. In a final home-use test, the members of the functionality-based segments (n=91) prepared and evaluated the tailored PE meal concepts.

Results           

The emotion-based approach resulted in four clusters; pleasurable averages, adventurous arousals, convivial indulgers, and indifferent restrictives. These emotions that these segments associated with their mealtimes varied along the two dimensions valence and arousal. However, from both CLTs we learned that the variation in valence-arousal as observed for mealtime-related emotions was not observed for emotions related to actual foods. The latter makes it challenging to identify products that evoke emotions congruent to the mealtime expectations of the emotion-based clusters.

With regard to the functionality-based approach, we encountered three clusters; physical nutritioners, cosy socialisers, and thoughtless averages. The cosy socialisers value the social interactions and cosiness during their mealtimes, whereas the physical nutritioners focus more on the health and nutrient aspects of meals. Thoughtless averages have the least distinctive mealtime expectations. We translated these functional mealtime expectations into two PE meal concepts; one tailored to cosy socialisers and one tailored to physical nutritioners. These meal concepts were well-accepted by the participants. However, congruency between mealtime expectations and functional meal associations did not result in a better ‘product-cluster fit’.

Conclusions   

Given the challenge to identify congruency between the meal associations and the mealtime expectations of the emotion-based clusters, we consider the emotion-based approach to be not yet actionable enough as a basis for tailoring PE products to older consumers. In contrast, the functionality-based approach appeared to be more promising, since the functional meal expectations could be translated to well-accepted tailored PE meal concepts. However, the effectivity of our functionality-based approach was not yet confirmed in this thesis, since congruency between functional meal associations and functional meal expectations did not necessarily result in a better ‘product-cluster fit’. Future studies, focussing on e.g. other meal types, are recommended to further explore mealtime functionality as a basis for tailoring PE meals to older consumer subgroups.

 

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • de Graaf, Kees, Promotor
  • Kremer, Stefanie, Co-promotor
  • Jager, Gerry, Co-promotor
Award date21 Oct 2016
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789462578920
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • meals
  • emotions
  • elderly nutrition
  • elderly
  • smell
  • food preferences
  • protein
  • proteins
  • questionnaires
  • young adults
  • chocolate

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