Food Science Poised to Help Address Needs of Aging Population

The aging baby boomers and subsequent generations will be looking to the food industry to provide products that can help them live longer, healthier and more active lives than previous generations, according to research presented at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 12 meeting.

March 30, 2012

CHICAGO – The aging baby boomers and subsequent generations will be looking to the food industry to provide products that can help them live longer, healthier and more active lives than previous generations, according to research presented at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting.

There are 78 million baby boomers, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those born from Jan. 1, 1946, to Dec. 31, 1964 in the United States. They began reaching the retirement age of 65 last year, and 10,000 more will reach that milestone every day for the next 18 years. In addition to seeking products that help them live better lives, they also will be seeking products in the coming years to help with the illnesses and chronic conditions common to older people, such as diabetes, vision loss and bone/joint problems.

Lu Ann Williams, head of research for Innova Market Insights, noted these areas of opportunity for food scientists, manufacturers and marketers:

  • Adding protein to boost metabolism, prevent fat gain and muscle loss
  • Marketing the value of foods in preserving vision health, such as those with vitamin A and lutein
  • Bone health claims, including non-dairy sources of calcium
  • Joint/mobility health, such as drinks containing glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Cognitive health, which includes adding Omega 3s and B vitamins to foods
  • Vitamin C products for immune health
  • Beta glucans and other products for heart/circulatory health

Ray Winger, Ph.D., managing director of Inside Foods Limited, said consumers who are trying to manage a health condition such as diabetes, cancer or kidney disease want foods that are appropriate for them to be clearly labeled as such and to be as affordable, tasty and available as any other food. He said it also may be beneficial to provide consumers with financial incentives for purchasing a healthier food option, such as no or lower tax on low-sodium bread.

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About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org .

 

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