A meal concept designed for older adults – Small, enriched meals including dessert
Background: The population of older adults is growing and many are at risk of disease-related malnutrition. This is a serious condition which increases the risk for other diseases and distress, human suffering and puts a high load on health care costs. Meal concepts tailored to suit the needs of older adults are required to decrease the incidence of disease-related malnutrition.
Objective: To evaluate sensory perception regarding a concept of small, protein and energy-enriched multicomponent meals designed according to the nutritional needs of older adults.
Design: A meal concept of small main courses with complementary desserts and protein and energy-enriched products was evaluated using triangle tests, hedonic evaluation and focus group discussion. Enriched sauces and meals were compared to corresponding commercial products regarding appearance, taste, consistency and overall acceptance.
Results: The concept of a small main course with a complementary dessert was generally perceived as positive by the target group. The acceptance scores for the enriched meals were generally lower than for the commercial meals, mainly owing to the packaging of the enriched meals which required covering the food in sauce. Enriched sauces contained approximately 90% more protein than the commercial sauces. However, protein enrichment affected the sensory properties of the sauces and they were perceived as thicker, creamier and less flavour-intensive.
Conclusions: A concept based on small, protein and energy-enriched meals supplemented with a dessert was considered suitable for increasing the energy and protein intakes of older adults provided that the method of enrichment ensures attractive sensorial properties.
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