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Open Access Protein for Life: Towards a Focused Dietary Framework for Healthy Ageing - BBSRC

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Western society is living a lot longer, and 'ageing well' is now becoming a very important priority for public health. Ageing goes hand in hand with a loss of muscle size and strength (known as sarcopenia). This loss of muscle affects people's balance, ability to walk, and overall ability to complete daily living tasks. This can lead to a loss of independence and mobility, which can impact on quality of life, well-being and increase health-care costs. Physical inactivity and poor nutrition are known to speed up the loss of muscle size and strength, however, we are all able to change these aspects of our lifestyle and become more active and consume a healthier diet. A diet low in protein is one of the main causes of sarcopenia, and it has been recommended that older individuals eat more protein than is currently advised. However, a key dietary deficiency for the ageing population is the widespread failure to achieve recommended intakes for protein consumption. Food intakes, including protein-rich foods, are known to decline with age and this is attributable to a range of factors including loss of appetite, changes in perceptions and taste, living conditions and financial reasons. Being aware of factors that may prevent older adults from increasing their total daily protein intake, we should focus on strategies to increase protein intake across the day rather than at just one meal. There is a severe lack of mainstream food products that can help meet the protein needs of an ageing population that are functional, taste good and are affordable. The purpose of this research is therefore to identify and develop guidelines for protein products for healthy ageing that are sustainable, cost effective and enjoyable. This information will then inform the food industry for new product development and reformulation of existing products that are appropriate for this population. Our study will take a number of different approaches to ultimately develop and disseminate guidelines to the food industry for the formulation of palatable higher-protein foods. First, we will take different sources of existing data to develop a profile of the type, quantity, quality and timing of protein intake in the . Alongside this, we will undertake a series of focus groups with members of the public (aged 40-54 years, 55-69 years and 70+ years) to further understand the barriers to and the facilitators of the consumption of protein rich foods in mid-life and later life. We will also run a series of experiments to further understand drivers of food choice and decision making in different age groups with a focus on the role of protein. A further objective is to collate information available in the academic literature and from the food industry on the optimal sources of protein that could be used in new products. This will include consideration of the composition of the proteins, palatability, sustainability, cost and public acceptance. All of this information will then be used to provide the food industry with a set of 'design rules' for new products. Working with our industry partners, we will then develop and trial some exemplar products based on the design rules. The products will then be tested for palatability and acceptability in groups of mid-life and older adults and then refined accordingly. Importantly, we will ensure that the findings of the study are then disseminated to key stakeholders including the public, policy makers and the food industry. We hope that this research will also provide a more general roadmap to inform future product development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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