January 2020 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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Malnutrition Report

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jan 23, 2020 in Malnutrition


Malnutrition is a silent epidemic, often called the “skeleton in the hospital closet” because it tends to escape detection and treatment.


This is surprising given that more than one in three hospitalised older adults and nearly one in thirty community dwelling people over 60 are malnourished. In aged care, malnutrition afflicts up to two thirds of residents.


Its prevalence is gradually gaining recognition, but malnutrition is still not given the attention it deserves, and this is a bigger problem than ever as we face a “demographic time bomb”. In Australia, the percentage of older people has tripled in less than a century, adding to global statistics revealing that, for the first time, there are more people over 65 than under five years of age.




Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.


Download your free report HERE

Big Pharma’s influence on health care must stop, experts say

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jan 15, 2020 in Research

A group of experts, policy makers, clinicians and citizen representatives from around the world are tackling the pervasive financial conflicts of interest in health research, education and clinical practice, proposing a better way forward.



The problem


More than half of medical research in the US is industry funded. Time and time again, it’s been shown that industry-funded trial outcomes favour their products, exaggerating benefits and downplaying harm, compared to independent studies.


Editors of leading medical journals have been scathing of biased research for at least a decade, and yet little has changed.


Former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell, stood down in 2000, famously saying, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.”


Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, similarly wrote that “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.”


Big pharma’s tentacles spread to medical education with studies finding clear links between funding and promotion of sponsors’ drugs – their influence even extends to advocacy groups.


In clinical practice, sales representatives and direct payments are associated with greater prescribing of drugs from the company’s sponsors, and clinical guidelines are often written by people with financial interests in pharmaceutical companies.


These practices are leading to overdiagnosis and prescription of drugs, impacting people’s health and wasting money. Polypharmacy – taking five or more medicines a day – is common and has been increasing in older adults, with many detrimental outcomes.



Proposed solutions


Essentially, healthcare needs to become independent, they say.


“If we want to produce trustworthy evidence and tackle the epidemic of medical excess,” says lead author Ray Moynihan from Bond University in Queensland, Australia, “decision-makers at all levels within healthcare need to disentangle themselves from those profiting from that excess.”


To do this, they suggest governments call for independently funded research by scientists with no industry ties on new treatments, tests and technologies, and that public healthcare organisations accept no industry funding.


People and bodies involved in all aspects of medical education need to stop reliance on industry funding.


Marketing interactions between industry and decision makers also needs to be stopped, including healthcare professionals and clinical guideline authors.


The group suggests that research institutions could provide incentives for scientists to collaborate with public agencies and civil society groups.


They hope the reforms will reinstate public trust and improve healthcare outcomes.


“Patients and the public deserve evidence they can trust,” says Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ.


“Commercial influence has no place in scientific research, nor in education and guidance of clinicians, nor in decisions about diagnosis and treatment. We hope that people around the world support our call for fundamental reforms.”


By accessing their paper, published online in the BMJ, concerned people can sign to support their call to action.










Prevention and Treatment of Malnutrition

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jan 7, 2020 in Malnutrition

Malnutrition occurs when someone does not receive enough dietary nourishment to sustain their physical health needs, leading to wasting.


The most common, and most obvious symptom is weight loss; technically, it is defined as unintentionally losing 5-10% of body weight over three to six months – and a high percentage of that comprises lean muscle tissue which is a critical problem in itself.



Prevention and Treatment


Health bodies are calling for mandatory nutrition standards across residential aged care facilities, including staff training and awareness. While the issue is complex and needs a multi-pronged approach, a simple start is prioritising quality food in aged care budgets.


Important strategies to prevent and treat malnutrition are regular meals and snacks containing protein and energy, a variety of food from the key food groups, and regular drinks to avoid dehydration. Where patients have difficulty eating or swallowing, high energy, high protein drinks can be given between meals.


Challenging conventional wisdom, diet quality is even more important for preventing frailty than food quantity or protein intake, according to a recent study in the US. The authors found four studies showing that a Mediterranean diet reduced frailty risk – an eating pattern high in plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes and healthy fats contained in extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds. It is low in processed foods, confectionary and red meat.


So giving custard and ice cream to patients at risk for malnutrition might not be the ticket for boosting protein and energy intake, but rather generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil for cooking and salads, a handful of nuts each day for those who can chew them, avocado, salmon, eggs and full fat dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese.


Barriers and catalysts of eating also need to be identified and addressed, and every effort made to help older people enjoy food and the enhanced wellbeing that it delivers.




Pleasure in Eating


Ultimately, if meals and food choices are appealing, older people are more likely to eat. The environment is very important. Cooking smells, communal eating, pleasant, relaxed surroundings and attractive food presentation can all stimulate appetite.


As Maggie Beer says, “It’s all about giving equal measures of pleasure and nutrition. Without pleasure, what is there in life?”





Our Cost of Malnutrition report outlines the problem of malnutrition and its various costs – both financial and physical – and offers a guide to its identification and management.


Download your free report HERE