For several years, Nofima has carried out research to develop products and solutions that may improve the everyday food experience for the elderly. Our scientists are now bringing their insights to EU projects.

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Wenche Aale Hægermark  

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Nofima plays a key part in two projects recently approved from JPI’s call for joint transnational research proposals “Development of targeted nutrition for prevention of undernutrition for older adults”.

Tasty, nutritious and easily digestible

As part of the project, dubbed “EAT4AGE”, the scientists will develop tasty, nutritious and easily digestible meals that should help prevent malnutrition and loss of muscle mass among elderly people. Senior Scientist Paula Varela at Nofima leads this project. Other participants from Norway include The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences as well as Nortura as an industry partner.

“In addition to developing nutritious and protein-rich prototypes of foods fit for the elderly, we will investigate the digestibility of various types of protein, body uptake, satiety and the effects on muscle mass. And of course, it is essential that the products appeal to the elderly, so we’re also going to carry out several tasting and consumer tests”, says Paula.

What happens in the body?

In the process of examining the properties relating to how digestible the food is, the scientists will apply and develop a digestive model – an artificial gastrointestinal model – for elderly people. This model is in widespread use in other Nofima research projects, and was initially developed as part of the EU Cost Action INFOGEST framework. In the artificial intestine, scientists can study how the food is digested and how the composition and processing of the food affects its digestibility.

In addition to examining how the intestine responds to the prototypes, scientists at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, among others, will test whether selected prototypes may help prevent muscle waste.

Physical activity and enriched meals to prevent malnutrition

In the FORTIPHY project, scientists will be developing new solutions to enable the elderly to enrich their own meals with ingredients rich in protein and nutrients. The importance of physical activity and approaches for motivating this will also be emphasized. The satiety effect and bioavailability (how nutrients are absorbed by the body) of the various solutions will be evaluated, with an emphasis on the impact of physical activity and how to promote it.

The final solutions should be aimed at adults older than 70 years who have little appetite. Representatives from this group will take part in the development process so that the researchers can make sure that the solutions can easily be integrated into people’s regular meal routines, and that they will be tasty and enjoyable.

Appealing, enriched meals

Engaging the elderly in the product development will be key in the work led by senior scientist Valerie Almli at Nofima. She will oversee the project’s first phase.

“We will develop simple and appealing recipes for nutritious everyday food which is suitable for enrichment with existing protein supplements. These solutions should be fit for both cooking from scratch and enriching ready-made meals to accommodate for all the relevant profiled consumer groups”, she says.

Both of Nofima’s applications build on the results from the Matlyst project and fall under the Nofima initiative VårMat.

Facts about JPI- Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life and the call for research proposals

26 countries in and outside Europe are participating in this European joint programme, which finances research into how food production, diet and lifestyle-related illnesses are interlinked.

The call for joint transnational research proposals “PREVNUT – Development of targeted nutrition for prevention of undernutrition for older adults” received a total of 17 applications from all over Europe. Six applications were granted, including the two applications where Nofima is a key partner.

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