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Sensible Aging: Using Nutrient-Dense Foods and Physical Exercise With the Frail Elderly


Nutrition in the Life Cycle

The frail elderly make up a group particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. To develop feasible interventions that will keep the frail elderly healthy and strong at home, we need to learn more about their nutritional and health status, so we performed an intervention study randomizing 161 frail elderly into 1 of 4 intervention groups: nutrient-dense foods, exercise, combination (nutrient-dense foods and exercise), or placebo (control). When taste and smell performance, appetite, dietary intake, body composition, and several biochemical parameters were studied after 17 weeks of intervention, the group receiving nutrient-dense foods had increased blood nutrient values and decreased homocysteine levels. The results also suggest a beneficial effect on bone mass and density for those consuming enriched foods compared to controls, although this needs further clinical confirmation. Exercise preserved lean body mass and energy intake. Nutrient-dense foods coupled with exercise may be both successful and feasible interventions in public health programs.

From the Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Nynke de Jong, Troelstraweg 61, 6702 AG Wageningen, The Netherlands (e-mail:

FIGURE Nynke de Jong completed her PhD thesis at the division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology of the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and postdoctoral study at the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Her research has focused especially on the nutritional and health status of the frail elderly.



© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.