Report is wake-up call for elderly nutrition issue - IADSA

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Nutritionists and policy-makers have put the issue of healthy
ageing way down the list of priorities, and the problem must be
addressed sooner rather than later, says a new report.

The report, researched and written by Professor David Richardson, scientific adviser to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN UK) in cooperation with the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations' (IADSA) Scientific Group of leading international scientists, explores the factors that influence nutritional status in older people. "The report represents a wake-up call for nutritionists and policy-makers,"​ Prof. Richardson told "There is a big gap between 'total life expectancy' and 'healthy life expectancy',"​ he said. The elderly currently make up 10 per cent of the global population - a figure that is expected to double by 2050, placing increasing demands on public health systems and medical and social services. And with governments proposing the extension of working lives to the age of 70 the issue of 'healthy ageing' must be highlighted, he added. "Increases in healthcare expenditure will outpace economic growth in many countries, so health professionals and policymakers will need to give greater priority to maximising the quality of life of older people and to ensuring the most cost-efficient methods of nutritional support,"​ said Prof. Richardson. Professor Richardson points out in his report that as people age their energy intake declines, making it much more difficult to ensure the micronutrient intake of diet as a whole. Such a deficit in micronutrient intake offers an opportunity for food supplements, he said. Taking the example of omega-3 fatty acids, Prof. Richardson pointed out that it is "almost impossible"​ for the elderly population to achieve the recommended intakes from the diet, based on current consumption. The report focuses on a wide range of health conditions and how the diet and micronutrients may offer protection, including cognitive function, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil supplements), cancer, cognitive function, gut health and immunity (pro- and prebiotics), and bone and joint health. If more attention was placed on the improving healthy ageing, the potential economic, health and social burdens could be reduced, said Richardson. "Healthy ageing is the key to reducing health care costs,"​ he added. "This would have a significant economic benefit."​ Such a program has worked in Japan, said Prof. Richardson, with the advent of FOSSHU, and Japan is where the report will be presented for the first time - at the IADSA's 'International Perspectives on Dietary Supplement Regulation' workshop on April 17 in Yokohama. CRN UK has also organised a workshop under the same name, "Nutrition, Healthy Ageing and Public Policy" to take place later in the year (6th November 2007) at the Royal College of Physicians. Prof. Richardson will present the findings of his report, and a wide range of experts from scientific and policy-making fields will also be speaking. "This report could be a key stimulus to the international debate about how health professionals and policymakers can help maximise the span of good health and improve the quality of life for older people, as well as reduce healthcare costs,"​ said Prof. Richardson.

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