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Older adults (≥65 years) are the fastest growing population group. Thus, ensuring nutritional well-being of the ‘over-65s’ to optimise health is critically important. Older adults represent a diverse population – some are fit and healthy, others are frail and many live with chronic conditions. Up to 78% of older Irish adults living independently are overweight or obese. The present paper describes how these issues were accommodated into the development of food-based dietary guidelines for older adults living independently in Ireland. Food-based dietary guidelines previously established for the general adult population served as the basis for developing more specific recommendations appropriate for older adults. Published international reports were used to update nutrient intake goals for older adults, and available Irish data on dietary intakes and nutritional status biomarkers were explored from a population-based study (the National Adult Nutrition Survey; NANS) and two longitudinal cohorts: the Trinity-Ulster and Department of Agriculture (TUDA) and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) studies. Nutrients of public health concern were identified for further examination. While most nutrient intake goals were similar to those for the general adult population, other aspects were identified where nutritional concerns of ageing require more specific food-based dietary guidelines. These include, a more protein-dense diet using high-quality protein foods to preserve muscle mass; weight maintenance in overweight or obese older adults with no health issues and, where weight-loss is required, that lean tissue is preserved; the promotion of fortified foods, particularly as a bioavailable source of B vitamins and the need for vitamin D supplementation.
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