A major societal challenge is to improve the quality of life and reduce disability and dependency in the ageing population. Large variations in age-adjusted incidence of major chronic diseases suggest strong environmental determinants, including diet. However, the consumer is the final judge of the acceptability of a food. Therefore, healthy ageing among all groups, but particularly in older people, will not be possible until the physiological factors and mechanisms of food choice and acceptance have been studied. This cluster project will define the sensory psychobiology, cognitive and social determinants of food choice, intake and enjoyment in different age groups and cultures. The data obtained will help to develop future nutrition policy and will improve the competitiveness of the EU food and drink sector.
- To determine the degree and nature of changes, which occur during ageing, in the physiological capability of the senses which are used to perceive texture, other mouthfeel stimuli, odour and taste, and determine the influence of these changes in food perception
- To understand the functioning of sensory memory and its role in food perception
- To determine the influence of changes in sensory capability on food appreciation, and food intake in different situations
- To provide information on the impact of sensory physiological ageing on choice of food
- To understand the attitudes of elderly people with respect to issues relating to food choice, and how these may affect their behaviour
- To understand the provisioning of food with respect to elderly people, and how this impinges on food choice
- To determine the special needs of elderly people with respect to factors such as packaging, portion sizes, ease of preparation, pricing, social context, etc.
- To establish the relative importance of sensory quality as a choice criterion versus other criteria, such as price, healthiness, branding etc.
- To understand demographic and cross-cultural differences, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with respect to the issues raised above
- To determine the difference between needs of full and part-time resident elderly people in a Mediterranean country
- To identify improvements that can be made to food products to increase their acceptability
- To provide guidelines to inform policy makers, the food industry and consumer groups who support the elderly on ways to develop and promote new food products that are both attractive and nutritionally tailored to older people
- To contribute to the health and well-being of the rapidly growing population of ageing people in Europe.
The project will:
- meet the aspirations of the consumer by providing the scientific basis for foods which will promote well-being
- contribute knowledge, which will be essential in realising the potential socio-economic benefits of promoting health through food
- provide a basis for developing food and nutritional policies within the EU, also in relation to the ageing population
- provide knowledge of physiological constraints, knowledge of changes in sensory perception and the value of sensory product attributes which will contribute to the targeting of commercial and public efforts to promote improved dietary intakes, health status and quality of life among EU consumers