Community-dwelling Dutch adults over the age of 70 consume more unhealthy saturated fatty acids and more salt than recommended, and less wholemeal products, fruit and fish than recommended. This group is therefore advised to comply with the same recommendations for diet improvement as the general Dutch population. One in five older adults has serious overweight. A healthy diet and sufficient physical exercise are important for all ages to prevent chronic diseases and disabilities. One in four Dutch adults over the age of 70 complies with the recommendation to take vitamin D supplements.

These are some of the results of a diet survey conducted by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment ) among some 700 community-dwelling adults over the age of 70. Most of the respondents were relatively vital.

Community-dwelling adults over the age of 70 mostly consume food and drinks at home. Compared to people in their fifties and sixties, they consume less meat, sauces and cereal products and drink less alcohol. However, they consume more fruit, sugar, sweets, margarine, spreads and cooking fat.

Only a small number of older adults with functional disabilities took part in the survey. These adults have a lower energy intake, consume less protein, vegetables, alcohol, calcium and magnesium, and run a higher risk of undernutrition. Further research must be conducted into the quality of the diet of vulnerable older adults.

This food consumption survey has produced detailed information on the diet of community-dwelling older adults, i.e. what products they eat and drink, and where and when they consume them. The survey was conducted as part of the national diet monitoring system. The data will contribute to the development of policy on healthy diet and food safety, and to product innovation, nutritional information and diet research.