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Article citation: Mabel Blades, (2011) "Editorial", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 41 Iss: 1, pp. -
Article Type: Editorial From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 41, Issue 1
The population of the UK is ageing. Over the last 25 years, the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15 per cent in 1984 to 16 per cent in 2009, an increase of 1.7 million people. Over the same period, the percentage of the population aged under 16 decreased from 21 to 19 per cent. This trend is projected to continue. By 2034, 23 per cent of the population is projected to be aged 65 and over compared to 18 per cent aged under 16.
The fastest population increase has been in the number of those aged 85 and over, the “oldest old”. In 1984, there were around 660,000 people in the UK aged 85 and over. Since then, the numbers have more than doubled reaching 1.4 million in 2009. By 2034, the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to be 2.5 times larger than in 2009, reaching 3.5 million and accounting for 5 per cent of the total population.
With this in mind, the number of older people in care is likely to increase dramatically. For anyone in residential care nutrition is of vital importance and attention is focussing on this.
The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) is a key organisation involved in this area and its aims are:
- To promote and enrich the standard of catering within the care sector, whether that catering be provided by social services departments or other caring agencies.
- To provide a forum for debate among individuals, companies and organisations of all kinds involved in catering for the care sector.
- To facilitate the exchange of information, experience and expertise.
- To promote the development of professional standards among those involved in catering for the care sector.
- To commission research into matters relating to catering for the care sector.
- To publish guidelines, policy papers and authoritative statements on all aspects of catering for the care sector.
- The NACC also holds an Annual Conference and Exhibition, which was held in Blackpool on 15-17 September 2010 at the Hilton Hotel. The theme of the conference was caring in the future with a focus of “No one should go hungry”.
- The NACC also holds local branch meetings.
As I am keen to improve the nutrition of older people, I volunteered to update the standards for nutritional care that the NACC uses and headed up a small team doing this.
The standards that were compiled aimed to be reflective of current nutritional science, seamless with other standards and simple. The final standards were put on the NACC web site in October 2010 and are as follows.
NACC recommended standards for older people in residential, day care and community meals
The NACC is committed to providing older recipients of meals in residential, day care and community services (i.e. meals at home and in luncheon clubs) with tasty and appealing food, that is appropriate to meet a complex range of individual tastes and nutritional requirements:
- Nutritional analysis of meals. The nutritional content of all meals and snacks must be provided.
- Overall nutrient content of meals.A meal such as is served at lunch, tea or suppertime consists of a main course, e.g. the entrée, starch, vegetables and gravy/sauce or a lighter meal such as sandwiches and their fillings plus side salad/garnish, must:
- provide a minimum of 300 kcal of energy;
- provide a minimum of 15 g of protein; and
- include a good source of protein and a starch, and a minimum of 80 g serving of vegetables.A dessert must: (unless fruit):
- provide a minimum of 200 kcal;For those providing wider meal services:
- breakfast must provide a minimum of 380 kcal and 8 g of protein;
- five portions of fruits and vegetables per day should be available, some as snacks;
- between meal snacks throughout the day should provide at least 400 kcal; and
- where fluids are provided: a minimum of seven beverages per day (1,500 ml) including the use of a minimum of 400 ml milk.
- (3) Support individual meal requirements: A varied menu should be available to suit a variety of clients’ needs including:
- ethnic, cultural and religious requirements;
- medical/health conditions, e.g. gluten free, modified texture, etc.; and
- local and regional customs and traditional practices, e.g. fish on Fridays.
- (4) Groupings for specific dietary needs:
- Healthier eating which embraces tolerances for salt, saturated fat, sugar and total fat thus making it suitable for people with diabetes, and those managing their weight, cholesterol levels and/or blood pressure.
- Higher energy for those who require extra calories.
- Softer may also be useful for identifying which dishes are easier to eat.
- Allergen content of meals must be available in accordance with UK Food Labelling Regulations and Amendments.
- Fresh drinking water must be available and accessible at all times and a choice of hot and cold drinks offered at refreshment and meal times.
- Over the day, hot and cold drinks together should provide each client with at least 1.5 l of fluid (see (2) above).