For older adults, undernutrition can be a serious health problem. EAT4AGE will prevent undernutrition and avoid impaired muscle function by investigating how age-related changes, such as decline in digestive functions, oral processing, sensory perception, and appetite, can be overcome.

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01. Apr 2021


31. Mar 2024

Funded by



Industry partner: Nortura in Norway and International Beer Breweries in Israel. Academics: The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, INRAE in France, Technion in Israel, University of Leeds in the UK, Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ireland.

European citizens have some of the highest life expectancies in the world, and the proportion of older adults is steadily increasing. Nutritional inadequacies may lead to undernutrition, which has large impact on older adults’ quality of life, development of diseases, and life expectancy.

In the project we will investigate how food reformulation can be used to combat undernutrition and improve the health of older people. We will develop tasty, nutritious and easily digestible meals that should help prevent malnutrition and loss of muscle mass among elderly people, and specifically address the choice of protein source and type of processing in developing innovative nutrient-dense foods with improved acceptability, as protein source may affect digestibility in older adults as well as appetite and satiety.

Main topics

  • How the balance between nutrition, lifestyle and physical exercise can prevent undernutrition
  • Development of innovative food products, based on new research (metabolism, on macro- and/or micronutrient bioavailability and absorption in older adults)

EAT4AGE is lead by Nofima. The research partners represent six different countries. This transnational and transdisciplinary research project will improve the prevention of undernutrition in older adults.

The project will provide new knowledge for older adults, that will be disseminated with the INFOGEST network as discussion partner and dissemination platform.

Work packages

EAT4AGE is divided into four work packages:

1 – Rational design of age-tailored food products

Formulation of innovative energy- and nutrient-dense food products that increase appetite and improve bioavailability of proteins (age-tailored model products).

  • Prototyping an assortment of age-tailored foods
  • Recipe optimization and pilot scale production.

WP-leader: Technion

2 – Consumer acceptability and expected satiation based on product texture and oral processing

Study older adults’ acceptability, oral comfort, and expected appetite/satiation of age-tailored model products.

  • Designing a textural ingredient toolbox
  • Screening developed prototypes in terms of in vivo and in vitro textural characteristics
  • Relating oral comfort in elderly to intrinsic salivary flow rate and dentition, bolus properties and food tribological properties
  • Studying acceptance and expected satiation of age-tailored l products as compared to the non-modified versions.

WP-leader: University of Leeds

3 – In vitro digestibility and nutrient bioaccessibility of age-tailored food products

In vitro digestion and nutrient bioaccessibility of different types of food matrices in age-tailored model products.

  • Assess the impact of oral physiology on food digestibility
  • Identify foods that will be extensively disintegrated in the digestive tract with optimized nutrient bioavailability
  • Develop a new international consensus on a semi-dynamic in vitro digestion models for older adults, in collaboration with INFOGEST.

WP-leader: INRAE

4 – The effect of food-modification on nutrient uptake, anabolic muscle response, and appetite

The effect of food-modification on nutrient uptake, the anabolic muscle response, and appetite in older adults after ingestion of different age-tailored model products, compared to non-modified versions.

  • Investigating the anabolic responses in skeletal muscle
  • Assessing the acute aminoacidemia
  • Assessing acute changes in subjective appetite feelings and regulating hormones.

WP-leader: The Norwegian School of Sport Science

Technology and methods

  • Innovative products
    • Smart food delivery systems: e.g. structuring of macronutrients, encapsulation of bioactive substances, spray-drying, high-pressure homogenization, milling, extrusion and protein hydrolysis. Upscaling to commercial production.
    • Products as integral part of a healthy diet: culture-based, but transferrable results
    • Ingredient textural toolbox: particle sizing, rheology, tribology using 3D-printed tongue, muco-adhesion measurement
  • Eating experience optimization
    • Sensory Description (static and dynamic) – w/trained panel
    • Oral comfort, acceptance, expected satiation- w/elderly consumers
    • Tribology, Rheology, Bolus properties, Saliva flow rate- instrumental
  • Digestion and bio-availability
    • Semi-dynamic in-vitro digestion models
    • Breakdown in the stomach -3D printed cell prototype & time-resolved fluorescence microscopy
    • Simulator mimicking stomach contractions
  • Nutrient uptake by acute study on older adults
    • Aminoacidemia, insulin response, glucose, lipidemia and satiety and appetite hormones, muscle biopsy
    • Subjective feelings of appetite and satiety.

Novelty & expected impact

Innovative products actively chosen, liked and eaten by older adults, easily digestible, that will prevent undernutrition and age-related muscle loss:

  • Products with “just-right textural” properties to enhance acceptability and reduce expected satiation and satiety
  • Uncovering the link between product properties, oral processing, sensory perception, acceptability and satiety
  • New insights in oro-gastrointestinal disintegration of food, digestibility (rate and extent) and bioaccessibility of nutrients
  • Anabolic effects of the optimized age-tailored products in older adults
  • Upscaling to commercial production & smart food delivery systems.

Partners in the project

EAT4AGE is led by Nofima.Other academic partners include: INRAE, The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Technion, University of Leeds, and  Teagasc Food Research Centre. Nortura and GatFoods are industry partners.

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