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Development of Geriatric Designer Diets

Development of Geriatric Designer Diets

3 October 2008

A visiting American expert in Animal Sciences says there is growing focus on developing foods for geriatrics.
Speaking at the Horizons science conference in Christchurch today, Dr Henry Zerby from Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences said the increasing ageing population is leading to the emergence of geriatric designer diets.

"An important part of this is developing meat for the elderly. They need meat which is easy for them to chew and swallow as their salivary glands start to wear out. Researchers are developing such meat which can also contain added zinc and iron to ensure the elderly obtain the levels of these micronutrients they need. The meat needs to be easily masticated but still desirable in appearance and flavour," said Dr Zerby.

"In America some nursing homes for the elderly are already using designer geriatric meal plans to attract elderly people. It's part of their marketing.

Dr Zerby says New Zealand meat is already well placed to develop the properties desired for geriatric diets.
"It is beneficial for the elderly to eat meat but meat is in the middle of a battle ground about health. There is a negative image related to the fat it contains but not all fats are created equal. Polyunsaturated fats have health advantages and these are generally found in greater concentrations in the meat of grass fed animals.

"New Zealand meat, with its grass fed lamb and beef, is often already leaner than the meat produced by grain fed animals and contains elevated levels of desirable fatty acids which can have anti-carcinogenic and anti-obesity properties.

"However, to ensure that meat eating is healthy it is important to control portion size. The recommended daily portion size of meat consumed should be similar to that of a pack of cards. If this amount of meat is consumed it is both safe and healthful as long as other aspects of a person's diet are appropriate for age and lifestyle," said Dr Zerby.

Dr Zerby is one of the international speakers addressing the Horizons conference which is sponsored by AgResearch, New Zealand's principal pastoral food research institute, and the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Livestock Industries Division.


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