Longer lifespans create new elderly nutrition concepts

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Are nutrition products meeting the needs of greying populations?
Are nutrition products meeting the needs of greying populations?
As average lifespans push beyond 80 years, demand is growing for products that meet the particular nutritional needs of the elderly such as cognitive performance and bone health. But is it a generation that buys into nutrition-led disease prevention over medical treatment?

It is a little of both, according to Euromonitor International health and wellness analyst, Diana Cowland, who told us products like omega-3 foods and supplements for brain health and calcium-fortified products for bone strength were being used more by ‘seniors’ but many still resisted nutritional interventions.

“It is developing but there is a lot of need for innovation in that area,” ​she said. “It is a new age group as people are living longer, often quite healthy, or wanting to be, in their 80s. But many of that age don’t have strong nutritional knowledge.”

“So there needs to be more education there – the government could do more in this way, especially with rising public healthcare costs.”

Longterm nutrition

Cowland said nutritional inputs at earlier life stages were also important for longer term health, but these were difficult to sell to people, especially when the benefits may not be seen or felt for 20-30 years.

Products that might contribute to cognitive health or bone health, may simply maintain a state of wellness, as opposed to say cardiovascular or digestive health products where the benefits are more immediately obvious.

“How to get younger consumers to buy products that may help them much later in life is a tricky problem for food manufacturers and marketers to solve. There are also doubts about the efficacy of some of these products.”

In that direction, she said the recent batch of 222 health claim approvals that are set to go live in December will offer a lot of validation for the sector – especially given the strictness of the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had approved 21 beauty from within claims (for vitamins and minerals); cardiovascular claims (21); cognitive claims (15), as well as 70 ‘wellness claims.

“There have been questions over efficacy that these article 13.1 claims will goa  long way to altering.”

NutraIngredients and FoodNavigator are hosting an online event that explores the full gamut of ‘Lifestages’ on October 2. More information about that here​.

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