• Reduce text

    Reduce text
  • Restore text size

    Restore text size
  • Increase the text

    Increase the text
  • Print

enior diet and pregnant woman

Of food and men

The elderly: preventing malnutrition and the consequences of ageing

Understanding the ageing process and the specific nutritional requirements of elderly individuals, as well as their dietary behaviours, in order to help with the formulation of appropriate foods.

Updated on 02/13/2019
Published on 12/04/2018

elderly meal © Monkey-Business-Fotolia
© Monkey-Business-Fotolia

Qualiment is a network of research laboratories that has been accredited as a Carnot Institute. It therefore offers a portal of entry into public sector research. This article looks at the advances achieved by laboratories working on foods and nutrition for elderly individuals.

At present, 17% of the population is over 65 years old

The increase in life expectancy that characterises our populations is not always accompanied by continued good health. A whole series of conditions associated with ageing can become pathological: thus sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoporosis increase the risk of fractures (16-fold among sarcopenic women), which is sometimes followed by a loss of independence. Fractures are a factor for additional mortality (25%). Malnutrition is seen in 40% of hospitalised patients; it was generally pre-existing and started at home and then favoured the onset of pathologies. A loss of cognitive capacities also weakens individuals and is another major cause dependency.
This spiral is neither inevitable nor totally irreversible. A suitable diet and the maintenance of physical activity can play a central role in preventing pathological ageing. They are the ingredients of "successful" ageing that preserves an optimum quality of life.

These are some of the innovations developed within the Qualiment network of laboratories:

Foods adapted to the oral and digestive physiology of the elderly

  • The development of fruit and vegetable-based products that are richer in proteins and energy, have an appropriate texture and are easy to chew, thus ensuring the satisfactory release of micronutrients (European FP7 project, Optifel, 2013-2017).
  • Development of foods (meats, cereals and dairy products) adapted to the mastication problems of the elderly, combining pleasure with ease of eating and nutritional efficacy (ANR ALIMASSENS project, 2014-2018).
  • Optimisation of the nutritional value of an everyday staple, pasta, achieved by  modulating the complementarity of amino acids from different plant sources (wheat, legumes) so that proteins are more rapidly assimilated (VEGAGE project, 2014-2017; funded by Qualiment).

Optimised perception of the flavour of foods

  • Test of the effectiveness of "sensory" strategies to prevent and combat malnutrition in the elderly. Demonstration of the strong links between food dependency, loss of independence, a reduction in sensory capacities, pleasure in eating and malnutrition. Nearly 100 experimental meals were produced to test sensory improvements. Work identified effective strategies to increase the pleasure of eating: availability of condiments, presence of two vegetables on the plate rather than just one, and the introduction of sensory variety in the environment of meals, etc. (ANR Aupalesens  project; 2009-2012).
  • Development of solutions enabling a "personalisation" of the management of the dependent elderly regarding their diet. Definition of a tool to evaluate needs and the creation of technical datasheets that combine the pleasure of eating with an intake that will meet nutritional needs (ANR REneSSenS project: Ecological Success of Balanced and Sensory Nutrition adapted to the Elderly (Réussir Ecologiquement une Nutrition Equilibrée et Sensoriellement adaptée pour Senior); 2013-2016)

Foods adapted to the metabolic changes associated with ageing

  • Demonstration of the value of plant protein ingredients in terms of protecting cardiovascular health. Prevention of insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress using rapeseed protein in a fatty and sweet diet (Plant products and cardiometabolic health [-> link to postcard]) plant products
  • Optimisation of the use of plant proteins to prevent muscle loss (PROVEG project, 2013-2016; funded by Qualiment).

For more information on these examples, and to ask any other questions about Qualiment, contact Pauline Souvignier, business manager for Qualiment.

business manager for Carnot Qualiment:
Pauline SOUVIGNIER (01 42 75 93 31)
logo Qualiment

The Qualiment network, accredited as a Carnot Institute

The aim of the Qualiment Carnot Institute is to facilitate and promote partnership research and provide industry with access to scientific excellence. Each year, it funds several upstream (or in-house) research projects that are designed to generate results that are transferable to industry.
Qualiment can offer private sector actors – whether they are SME or major industrial groups – a range of transversal skills in the food and nutrition field: nutrition, sensory parameters, processes and food structure.

Accreditation as a Carnot Institute is awarded to public research structures to certify their scientific excellence and professionalism in their partnership relations. Carnot funds innovative internal projects in the form of annual calls for projects that are selected using criteria of excellence and transferability. The Institute also has ISO 9001 certification regarding the implementation of good contractual and intellectual property practices with its industrial partners.