Food Helps Older Generation Age Successfully

December 13, 2012

CHICAGO—The 60+ age group globally is expected to climb from 605 million in the year 2000 to around 2 billion people by the year 2050. In addition, the number of people worldwide age 80+ is expected to quadruple to almost 400 million (Leatherhead Food Research, 2012). These older consumers want to live active, healthy lives as they age. As they are becoming increasingly aware of food’s impact on health and wellness, more will begin to look at food to solve or prevent health issues. In the December issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Digital Media Editor Kelly Hensel writes how food manufacturers and marketers must walk a thin line of letting these consumers know about products that can help them achieve a healthy lifestyle without making them feel old.

More than 60 percent of adults ages 50-64 have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure (Perishables Group 2009). Whereas in the past, many consumers turned to medicine and supplements to fight age-related illnesses; now they’re using healthy eating as a key strategy in their goal of aging successfully. A growing array of ingredients can be used to add functional properties to address aging consumer health concerns.

Aging Graphic 

Specific product categories include:

  • Yogurt—Probiotics added to yogurt offer digestive health benefits and protein helps prevent sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength often associated with aging.
  • Yellow Fats—Margarines or spreads increasingly include plant stanols and omega-3 fatty acids, which are designed to help control cholesterol levels and maintain heart health.
  • Breads and Cereals—Many bread products are now being fortified with whole grains, which have been shown in studies to help achieve weight loss and lower cholesterol, as well as calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants to address a wide range of diseases.  
  • Milk—Milks fortified with plant stanols, omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium with vitamin D can help with heart, brain and eye health.

In addition to functional and nutritional properties, manufacturers developing products for older consumers have to take into consideration that aging is often accompanied by decreased sense of taste, smell, and chewing ability. In addition, packaging needs to have larger fonts, less text, and must be easy to open.

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About IFT     
For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. Our nonprofit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.


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