Cover of Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age

Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age

Workshop Summary


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-13: 978-0-309-15883-1ISBN-10: 0-309-15883-4
Copyright © 2010, National Academy of Sciences.


With baby boomers reaching their 50s and 60s and the growth rate of the U.S. population age 65 years and older expected to double over the next twenty years, the need to prepare for an expanding population of older adults has never been as urgent as it is now. The growing size and changing demographics of aging adults place new demands on the food supply, with older adults not only being more susceptible to certain foodborne illnesses or health complications caused by those illnesses but also likely to experience significant changes in dietary needs and nutrition. While there is still a great deal to learn about what constitutes an “optimal diet” for older adults, available evidence indicates that dietary needs change with aging as a result of sensory loss and other physiological changes, changes in food preparation, and other eating-related behaviors. The fast-growing nature of the U.S. older population also creates new communication challenges with respect to educating older adults about how to manage a nutritious diet, how to prepare and store food safely, and how to act in the event of a safety-related food recall. In recognition of these trends and challenges, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Food Forum convened a one-and-a-half-day workshop in October 2009 to explore food supply issues of relevance to aging adults. Specifically, the purpose of the workshop was to address the questions: What are the future challenges to providing healthy and safe foods to aging populations, and what can be done to meet those challenges?