Dairy giant Fonterra has ventured today into finding a solution to address the growing issue of malnourishment in older people. It has joined 24 scientific and nutritional organisations in a major international project.
The dairy giant said in a statement older people in many countries, including New Zealand, are at a higher risk of health issues due to poor nutrition.
The five-year project, ‘The Prevention of Malnutrition in Senior Subjects in the EU’, discusses how dieting and appetite may have a significant role in malnutrition and functional decline of people over 70 years.
Fonterra director NZMP Medical Nutrition Maarten van Beek said the research findings will help the dairy company develop innovative food products that prevent malnutrition and support active and healthy ageing.
In New Zealand, almost 75 per cent of older adults involved in a recent Massey University study led by associate professor Carol Wham were found to be at risk of malnourishment, or were malnourished, when they were admitted to hospital.
“Older people need more protein to support good health, as malnourishment can cause muscle shrinking, as well as other health-related problems. The findings should offer valuable insights into the best ways to incorporate more protein into their diets,” said van Beek. “A key focus of NZMP’s Medical Nutrition work is to develop great-tasting, protein-enriched nutritional solutions that are part of a normal diet for older people.”
Fonterra said its research participants will add NZMP protein-fortified products to their regular diets, including a coconut protein water, a chocolate and vanilla pudding and rice pudding. van Beek said the company welcomes the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives by sharing technical knowledge and expertise to create inventive protein-enriched food concepts.
“Not only does improved nutrition make a difference at an individual level, it can also help to reduce strain on healthcare systems,” added van Beek.
NZMP, Fonterra’s dairy ingredients brand, formulates a range of specialised dairy nutrition solutions to help people to recover from malnutrition and for those who want to stay healthy and active as they age. These form part of its broad range of dairy ingredients and solutions developed for global food and beverage companies.
The size of the functional foods market for seniors has been estimated to be worth $95.8 billion by 2022.