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Liam Butler interviews Sue Pollard, Julian Jensen

Liam Butler interviews Sue Pollard CEO NZ Nutrition Foundation, and Dititian/Author Julian Jensen.

13 January 2014

Liam Butler

Sue Pollard qualified as a dietitian and worked in many areas of the profession, from clinical to diabetes to community services before gravitating to food service management. Her career progressed to more general health management roles from the early 1990s at Waitemata and Auckland DHBs. She returned to her nutrition roots in 2005, when she took up the CEO role at the Foundation. Sue is a past president of the Dietitians New Zealand, and has post-graduate qualifications in management, including a MBS (Master Business Studies) from Massey University. She is a member of the generation of ‘older people' born in the 1940s.

Can you explain the role that older people can have in celebrating healthy eating to their children and grandchildren?

What do you see as the best way for older people to be involved in the food Literacy education of our children?

The answers to both these questions are really the same:

Grandparents who are retired (and not all are these days) may have the time to get involved with the ‘food literacy education' of their children in many different ways. With so many families having both parents working these days, grandparents can be a great role model for children;

• Supporting parents' efforts to teach their children about food, to encourage variety and balance in their diet and promote the enjoyment of delicious and healthy food.

• Getting their grandchildren to help with shopping and cooking, so generating an interest in food.

• Grandparents can often be the people who encourage children to eat at the table, and converse and learn their manners. They can support parents to make meal time family time.

• Grandparents may also have the time and skills to get their grandchildren gardening - growing vegetables and then showing them how to cook the food they grow.

• For some fortunate children, grandparents may take them fishing, hunting, or engage them with helping on a farm.


Julian Jensen is a New Zealand Registered Dietitian with a wide range of practice experience, particularly nutrition of the older person and foodservice management. She has co-authored two books relating to these areas of interest. Until recently, Julian was a consultant dietitian with her own practice, where much of her work was in the rest and residential care sector. She is a past Nutrition Foundation Councillor and a founding member of the Foundation's Committee for Healthy Ageing, of which she is the current Chair.

Can you give some examples of how older people have changed their diets for the better and how it affected their lives?

The national 2008-09 Adult Nutrition survey gave some interesting insights into how older adults are eating:

Milk intake - Milk is the second greatest contributor (after breads) of protein in the diet of older people, and the percentage of older people choosing lower-fat or trim milk increased with age, with those 71+ years topping the scale. Almost 2/3 of these older women chose lower fat milks.

Older people now use oil most of the time for cooking - at levels similar to the whole population. Similarly, the proportion of older adults never or rarely adding salt to food after it had been cooked is comparable throughout the age cohorts (43.1% men and 52.2% women)

I think it is interesting to look at history here too. It was in the early 80's that the Nutrition Task Force first came out with the nutritional guidelines as we know them today, when issues of fat, salt and sugar intake, fibre and whole grains came to the fore. The people who were in their 30's to 50's then are now in their 60s to 80s and the messages of the Guidelines are coming through the generations more and more now, and to a large extent we are seeing older people eating more ‘healthily' now. Rates of cardiovascular disease are declining too.

Another interesting statistic from the survey was that more that 95% of older people ate breakfast each day - the highest percent of all age groups. (Less than 50% of people aged 19-30 ate breakfast on a daily basis).

Note: It is very important for older people to eat well, keep active and maintain a healthy body weight. The survey showed that about 74% of older people had a good weight for healthy ageing (classified as within the normal to overweight range).

(The sample included people living in the community, not in institutions).

Read more articles like this at the ELDERNET GAZETTE

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