Older people have special nutritional needs to maintain health and avoid malnutrition.
The Nutrition for Older Australians Alliance, made up of five peak organisations, Meals on Wheels Australia, Dietitians Australia, Nutrition Australia, Maggie Beer Foundation and the Public Health Association of Australia has made a submission Federal Government for the upcoming Budget highlighting key funding priorities to improve nutrition among the older population
The Alliance outlined two recommendations on how to achieve better nutrition for older Australians for a combined Government investment of $5 million.
1. Fund the development of a specific set of Dietary Guidelines for over 70 years of age, drawing on revised Nutrient Reference Values for people over 70 years.
2. Fund successful public education, implementation support, monitoring and evaluation of the Dietary Guidelines for older Australians, over 70 years.
President of Meals on Wheels Australia, Sharyn Broer said the cost of the recommendations was a modest expense compared to the total annual health budget spend of the Australian Government in 2019-20, which reached $81.8 billion.
The submission also highlighted the importance of tailored Dietary Guidelines for older Australians to address the unique nutrition requirements of this vulnerable age group.
"As we get older our nutritional needs change," said Mrs Broer.
"We know older Australians require more protein to maintain protective muscle mass, more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B2 to maintain bone strength and adequate amounts of energy to prevent unintentional weight loss.
"We expect that implementing these recommendations will result in better health and wellbeing for older Australians and reduced economic burden on the Australian health system, providing a double benefit to the Federal Government."