Expo 2015 – Dietary strategies for a healthy ageing Workshop

How to prevent functional decline and prolong quality of life? What is the effect of diet on ageing?

We need to understand the beneficial and harmful dietary factors as well as the specific needs and habits of the elderly population group. The workshop which took place in the European Pavilion of Expo 2015 on May 18th, 2015, gathered about thirty researchers on the topic of “DIETARY STRATEGIES FOR A HEALTHY AGEING”. This workshop was organised in order to present past and future European Union funded research projects that contribute to a better understanding of nutritional needs for a better quality of life while ageing.

Each project was detailed by its coordinator: M. Kuck for Performance , C. Renard for Optifel, X. Allirot for SIforAge, et A. Santoro et C. Franceschi for Nu-Age. These four projects illustrated the variety of possible approaches, as Performance aims to propose a solution for production of 3D restructured and shaped foods, Optifel to conceive, elaborate and validate food products, based on fruit and vegetables, optimised for the nutrition of seniors, SIForage to promote Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) in society by strengthening cooperation between researchers, product- and service-developers, policy-makers, and civil society organizations across the social spectrum, and Nu-Age to fill the current lack of knowledge on how the whole diet can impact on and counteract age-related disease and functional decline.

The round table discussion that followed the presentations allowed identification of 5 priorities for future research projects:

  • The need of an integrated approach, hence of multidimentional, integrative projects from mechanistic (human physiology) to sociology through food science;
  • To identify solutions for adoption of nutritional and exercise recommandations (research into human motivation and barriers to adoption of specific behaviours);
  • To identify the adequate food solutions and their logistics, which needs research into food processing and structuring (and impact of structure on bioavailability), into eating capability, into packaging;
  • Lack of knowledge on physiology at advanced ages, and impact of whole life;
  • The means to enhance adoption of good nutritional and exercise habits from a younger age to prepare healthy ageing.

At last, we should already think about specific studies addressing the “future” seniors i.e. the present active generations and their adoption of healthier life patterns (or not).

Organised by I. Van Borm (DG research and Innovation) and C. Renard (INRA, coordinator of OPTIFEL project), this workshop aimed to review projects related to this topic and identify future research needs.