Liking, Preference and Practical Implications of Protein and Energy Enriched In-Between-Meals Designed for Elderly People
Background: An adequate dietary intake, especially of protein and energy, is important for maintaining health among elderly people, especially those in care homes. One strategy to ensure nutritional intake is to customise attractive products through enrichment to match the needs of elderly people in care homes.
Objective: To evaluate liking and practical aspects of protein and energy enriched in-between meals designed for elderly people in care homes through the use of quantitative and qualitative assessments.
Design: A broad range of energy and protein enriched in-between meals, including both savoury and sweet products, were included. The products were evaluated by a consumer test and a focus group discussion with elderly respondents. The products were also evaluated by a second focus group discussion with care staff.
Results: The most liked products were ice cream and cheesecake. All products achieved high scores for appearance, taste/flavour and texture. No product included in the study was extremely disliked. However, the least liked product was tomato soup, which scored above the middle of the scale except for texture. It was clear from the focus group discussions that a colourful appearance, small portion size and texture were of primary importance. The temperature had an impact on liking and swallowability.
Discussion: Most products were perceived by the elderly participants as appealing and tasting good, and possible to include in a daily diet. It was clear that the colours of the foods were of primary importance. In line with other studies, it was found that highly liked in-between meals were frozen, cold and sweet. These products were also easy to swallow.
Conclusions: It is possible to produce highly liked energy and protein enriched in-between meal products designed for elderly people. The temperature had a great impact on the liking of texture, taste and flavour. In-between meals should preferably be colourful and have a small portion size.
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