It is estimated, that in year 2020 more than every fifth (23 %) person in Finland is more than 65 years old (SVT, 2019). Globally, the increased life expectancy together with decreased fertility rates has led to a change towards older population (Clegg et al. 2018). From an individual’s perspective growing life expectancy is of course a positive phenomenon. However, it presents numerous challenges at a societal level in terms of managing people’s health, quality of life, and economic circumstances (Clegg et al. 2018).
Aging may result in decreased food intake, owing to several different physiological, physical, psychological or social factors (Trabal et al. 2015). Decreased food intake may lead to malnutrition and weight loss in elderly people. Causes of malnutrition are complex and multifactorial, and the question remains unsolved which dietary strategies are the most optimal for improving the energy and nutrient intake of older adults (Volpi et al. 2012). Specially, older adults are at increased risk of suboptimal protein intake (Volpi et al. 2012).
In September 2019, Fazer Group and Fazer Food Services conducted a nutritional randomised intervention study for older adults. The PowerSnacks study had two different study groups; intervention and control group which both had 17 study subjects. The study was carried out in Munkkiniemi, Helsinki. The study started September the 9th and continued until the beginning of October 2019.
The main purpose was to develop innovative, tasty and acceptable protein snacks for older people. The study was carried out mainly with milk- and plant-based proteins, and no meat or meat products were used in the study. The snacks contained 10-15 grams protein each, and they varied every day. Altogether there were 15 different snacks in the study. Snacks were for example porridges, cakes, smoothies, yogurt-like products or omelettes. Each participant in intervention group evaluated anonymously snacks, and the feedback is then applied in the future development.
Also, one of the main outcomes for the study was to explore the association of the protein snacks and the protein intake. During the study, the study subjects were asked to fill food diaries. After the study, each person in the study received information about their dietary habits.
This is very exciting and important field to investigate to combat the nutritional challenges among aging population. Also, the protein snacks can of course be modified for the younger target group.
Sofia Siljama, Nutrition and assortment planner, Fazer Food Services
Clegg M.E. Williams E.A. Optimizing nutrition in older people. Maturitas 112 (2018) 34–38 doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.04.001
Suomen virallinen tilasto (SVT): Väestöennuste [verkkojulkaisu].
ISSN=1798-5137. Helsinki: Tilastokeskus [viitattu: 24.9.2019].
Trabal J. Farran-Codina A. Effects of dietary enrichment with conventional foods on energy and protein intake in older adults: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews 2015 Vol.73(9):624–633 doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv023
Volpi E. Campbell W.W. Dwyer J.T. et al. Is the Optimal Level of Protein Intake for Older Adults Greater Than the Recommended Dietary Allowance? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 June;68(6):677–681 doi:10.1093/gerona/gls229