Meals on Wheels SA (MoWSA) is collaborating with major research institutes to conduct research on how best to assist older people achieve dietary targets and improve their nutritional health and wellbeing.
The study, which will compare the health outcome of clients over 70 receiving standard Meals on Wheels meals versus a meal with additional protein and energy, is being conducted by MoWSA, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences. The study seeks to find whether undernourished older people receiving Meals on Wheels meals that are fortified with extra energy and protein, achieve their estimated energy and protein requirements more readily than people receiving standard meals. Results will be compared with a group of older people who do not use Meals on Wheels’ services. It is expected to be completed in six months and comes at a time where obesity remains a primary public health concern yet the issue of malnourishment and under-nutrition continues to be overlooked.
Research Scientist, Dr Natalie Luscombe-Marsh, CSIRO and University of Adelaide affiliate, said early indicators of the research were positive.
“Preliminary findings show that Meals on Wheels is helping older people reach their nutrition requirements,” Dr Luscombe- Marsh said.“After 12 weeks of intervention we have found that the provision of Meals on Wheels to undernourished, older people improves total energy and protein intakes, particularly for high protein and high energy meals. “We’ve also found a general improvement in the body weight among participants.”
Dr Luscombe-Marsh is currently calling on more people over 70 to be involved in this research, whether they use Meals on Wheels or not. The study is confidential and at no cost to participants.
“By taking part in the study you’ll be contributing to worthwhile research designed to counteract a growing public health concern, while also assisting yourself and your friends in the community,” she said.
MoWSA Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Sharyn Broer, said MoWSA had a role to play in preventative health and that the current research study was a positive investment for the future of all its older clients. “MoWSA is not a caregiver or aged provider – we area primary health enabler that exists to support people in the community to live independently,” she said.
“By helping to improve the nutrition status of our older clients, we are assisting in maintaining their health, social connections and overall role in the community. “Most people aren’t aware that malnourishment is prevalent among older people. At a time where obesity is top of mind as a public health concern, the issue of under-nutrition shouldn’t be overlooked.