Dietary assessment methods for older persons: what is the best approach?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Due to the present worldwide demographic change and the close relation between nutrition and health up to old age, accurate dietary assessment in older persons gains in interest and importance. The purpose of this article is to give an overview of dietary assessment methods for this growing population group, with emphasis on recent findings, and to highlight future research needs.

Recent findings

Knowledge on dietary assessment in older and especially in very old persons is limited and specific aspects were selectively examined in recent times. For use in epidemiological studies, short food frequency questionnaires were developed and validated, which seem to be promising to reduce the burden for respondents and interviewers. In the clinical setting estimation of dietary intake by plate diagrams was shown to be valid, and in different populations anorexia emerged as an important prognostic parameter.

Summary

The best approach for dietary assessment in older persons depends on the purpose of the assessment and the specific abilities and impairments of the sample or person under study. Research is needed to further develop existing methods in order to meet the needs of old and very old persons and to identify major modifiable prognostic nutritional characteristics.

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