The population of older adults aged 85 years and over (the very old) is growing rapidly in many societies because of increases in life expectancy and reduced mortality at older ages. In 2016, 27.3 million very old adults were living in the European Union, and in the UK, 2.4% of the population (1.6 million) were aged 85 and over. Very old age is associated with increased risks of malnutrition, multimorbidity, and disability. Diet (nutrition) is a modifiable risk factor for multiple age-related conditions, including sarcopenia and functional decline. Dietary characteristics and nutrient intakes of the very old have been investigated in several European studies of ageing to better understand their nutritional requirements, which may differ from those in the young-old. However, there is a major gap in regard to evidence for the role of dietary patterns, protein, vitamin D and other nutrients for the maintenance of physical and cognitive functioning in later life. The Newcastle 85+ Study, UK and the Life and Living in Advanced Age, New Zealand are unique studies involving single birth cohorts which aim to assess health trajectories in very old adults and their biological, social and environmental influences, including nutrition. In this review, we have updated the latest findings in nutritional epidemiology with results from these studies, concentrating on the diet–physical functioning relationship.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited