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Eggs for older ages
The British Egg Industry Council is sponsoring a three-year programme of research into the potential for improving health in later life by increasing egg intake.
Approximately 20% of older people in the UK are currently thought to suffer from inadequate protein-specific nutrition. Previous work in this area has suggested specific barriers to the consumption of high protein foods by older people, including concerns over the texture and perishability of high protein foods, as well as difficulty in cooking and eating them.
As a high protein food with considerable nutritional benefits, eggs offer a number of practical advantages in terms of texture, shelf life, ease of cooking and lower cost than many other high protein foods. Eggs, however, are not consumed in significant quantities by the older population and researchers have suggested that increased consumption may benefit protein intake and protein status.
The new research programme, a PhD project being undertaken at Bournemouth University, will include a series of studies involving both practical and statistical methodologies.
The project will start in January 2015 with a series of focus groups among people over the age of 55 to investigate their eating habits and to ascertain possible barriers, facilitators, concerns and perceived benefits to increasing intakes of eggs and other high protein foods.
The focus groups will be followed by a questionnaire among a wider population to establish patterns of egg consumption in older adults across the UK.
From 2016 a long-term study will take place to investigate the impact of novel interventions for increasing egg intake, and protein status. Protein status will be assessed using bioimpedence before and after the interventions, compared to a control group.
The study is being led by Dr Katherine Appleton, from the Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University.
“Previous research in this area has shown that many older people would benefit from increasing protein intake, and eggs are an ideal food to achieve this,” says Dr Appleton.
“This study will establish why some older people avoid eggs and then seek to overcome any barriers to cooking and eating eggs through appropriate interventions.
“This project has clear potential to improve the health and quality of life of the older population, with potential impacts also on the social environment and economy.
“We are grateful to British Egg Industry Council for their support and believe that the results of this study could impact positively on the egg industry as well as on UK consumers.”