A food-based approach to increase egg and protein intake in community dwelling British older adults aged over 55 years old.
Authors: van den Heuvel, E.
Dietary protein has an important impact on health, physical functioning, and muscle mass, and the prevalence of protein specific under-nutrition is high among older adults. Eggs are a nutrient dense, high quality source of protein. Compared to other protein rich foods, eggs are easy to cook, of low cost, long shelf life, soft texture, and they are familiar to most people. Therefore this PhD project aimed to explore the barriers and facilitators specific to egg intake in older adults, and use these in a food-based approach to increase egg and dietary protein intake in community dwelling older adults aged over 55 years old. Focus groups were used to identify reasons for eating or not eating eggs in adults aged 55 years and older. The 69 different reasons found were then used to design a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire results reveal that the questionnaire statements (based on the reasons) can significantly predict egg consumption in a population wide sample of British older adults. The reasons significantly related to egg consumption reveal several topics to focus on when designing strategies to increase egg consumption in older adults. One of the outcomes showed that older adults who eat more eggs report thinking eggs taste good and add variety to the diet. Adding flavour and more variety may encourage intakes in those who consume fewer eggs. A randomized controlled intervention study was designed to increase egg and protein intake, by providing recipes of protein-rich egg-based meals and herb/spice packets to encourage the addition of flavour and variety to the diet. The results showed that being in the intervention group was significantly related to higher egg intake at a follow up session at the end of the study, but not directly after the intervention. Protein intake was not different between the groups at either of the time points. The current research has showed that exposing older adults to recipes and herb/spice packets can change their egg consumption, and may therefore be helpful in an easy to implement and cost effective strategy to change eating behaviour in older adults.