Dr Laura Wilkinson | Swansea University; Professor Andrea Tales
Competition Sponsor: United Kingdom Research and Innovation
Awardee Year: 2023
Our older adult community, especially those from a lower socio-economic background, are currently facing the health challenges of obesity and malnutrition, sometimes both at the same time. This results in increased risk of cardio-vascular disease and type 2 diabetes for obesity and/ or sarcopenia (muscle weakness) for malnutrition. Too often, the proposed solutions to these health challenges rely on an individual to make lifestyle changes (e.g., by following a particular diet using an app). However, sticking to such diets can be extremely challenging when we live in a food environment that encourages over-consumption of foods with little nutritional benefit. Moreover, failure to achieve health goals associated with eating and body weight can lead to the experience of ‘weight stigmatisation’.
We propose a service to improve the overall eating environment for older adults and reduce stigma by avoiding placing responsibility on an individual. We will work with food producers, suppliers to care-homes and the NHS, supermarkets, and consumers to change the availability, accessibility and acceptability of products that support the health of older adults.
We have conducted research that suggests that foods can be developed with older adult health in mind and acceptability of these foods can be improved by working with older adults to optimise the presentation of these products. This service will allow manufacturers producing, in particular, sustainable and healthy foods, to access expertise and equipment to optimise their product for the older adult community (without having to invest in costly expertise and equipment themselves).