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Improving the dietary intake of frail older people

  • W. S. Leslie (a1)

As a population subgroup, older people are more vulnerable to malnutrition especially those who are institutionalised. Recognition of deteriorating or poor nutritional status is key in reversing the effects of undernutrition and reinforces the value of regular weight checks and/or the use of screening tools. Commercially produced supplements are often the first option used to address undernutrition in both acute and community settings. They can be expensive and, although regularly prescribed, have undergone only limited evaluation of their effectiveness in community settings. An alternative but less researched approach to improve the nutritional status of undernourished people is food fortification. This approach may be particularly useful for older people, given their often small appetites. The ability to eat independently has been significantly related to decreased risk of undernutrition. Assisting people who have difficulty feeding themselves independently should become a designated duty and may be crucial in optimising nutritional status. Lack of nutrition knowledge has been identified as the greatest barrier to the provision of good nutritional care. Education and training of care staff are pivotal for the success of any intervention to address undernutrition. The development of undernutrition is a multi-factorial process and a package of approaches may be required to prevent or treat undernutrition. Nutrition must be at the forefront of care if national care standards are to be met.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Dr Wilma Leslie, fax +44 141 211 4844, email
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Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
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