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J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Dec;108(12):2084-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.09.005.

Increased energy density of the home-delivered lunch meal improves 24-hour nutrient intakes in older adults.

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Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-2713, USA.


As food intake declines with aging, older adults develop energy and nutrient inadequacies. It is important to design practical approaches to combat insufficient dietary intakes to decrease risk for acute and chronic diseases, illness, and injury. Manipulating the energy density of meals has improved energy intakes in institutional settings, but the effects on community-residing older adults who are at nutrition risk have not been investigated. The aim of this study was to determine whether enhancing the energy density of food items regularly served in a home-delivered meals program would increase lunch and 24-hour energy and nutrient intakes. In a randomized crossover counterbalanced design, 45 older adult Older American Act Nutrition Program participants received a regular and enhanced version of a lunch meal on alternate weeks. The types of foods, portion sizes (gram weight), and appearance of the lunch meal was held constant. Consumption of the enhanced meal increased average lunch energy intakes by 86% (P<0.001) and 24-hour energy intakes by 453 kcal (from 1,423.1+/-62.2 to 1,876.2+/-78.3 kcal, P<0.001). The 24-hour intakes of several key macronutrients and micronutrients also improved. These data suggest that altering the energy density of regularly served menu items is an effective strategy to improve dietary intakes of free-living older adults.

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