Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Population ageing in Europe poses major demographic and socioeconomic challenges which are expected to increase over the coming decades. The ageing process itself usually does not usually cause malnutrition in healthy and active elderly people with appropriate lifestyles. However, changes in body composition and organ function, the ability to eat or access food, inadequate dietary intake and the partial loss of taste and smell are associated with ageing and may contribute to malnutrition. Malnutrition and weight loss, which tend to develop more readily in the elderly, may significantly affect the quality of life, may impact on physical and psychological functioning and can have multiple effects such as immobility, skeletal disorders, insulin resistance, hypertension, atherosclerosis and metabolic disorders. The elderly are also among the groups most vulnerable to malnutrition in crisis and disaster situations. Providing an adequate diet with all essential nutrients, and promoting physical activity are essential for healthy ageing.

Scope: Based on a better understanding of the mechanisms of the ageing process, dietary strategies, dietary recommendations and new food products to prevent and treat malnutrition in the elderly (living at home, in nursing homes, hospitals, and/or emergencies) should be developed with the aim of preventing functional decline and improving appetite, health and quality of life of the elderly. A holistic strategy to prevent malnutrition should be developed, and could include research on the role of, amongst other, nutrients in the human organism (their bioavailability and interactions), the gut microbiome, food preparation at home, the physical and social environment (such as social networks). Proposals should address responsible research and innovation aspects by taking account of specific nutritional requirements, dietary behaviours and preferences, sensory aspects, the gender dimension, ethical factors, socio-economic factors and/or cultural aspects. Proposals could include the development of smarter and more intelligent devices for the monitoring of food intake. In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation and in particular with the implementation of the International KBBE Forum priorities, proposals are encouraged to include third country participants, especially those established in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and/or the United States[1]. Relevant stakeholders, including industry and SMEs, should be involved.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

·         Design and development of evidence-based dietary strategies, dietary recommendations and new food products that support active and healthy ageing and help prevent malnutrition in the elderly.

·         Complementary support to the research and innovation activities carried out in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing and to the development of the European Research Area through the Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’. 

·         A strengthening of the EU´s key global market position in innovative products and services for the elderly.

·         A better understanding of the interaction between nutrition and the ageing process through international collaboration and exchange of knowledge/best practice.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions

[1] This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.

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