New report: The Role of Nutrition in COVID-19 Recovery, Aging and Health

New report published by the Global Coalition on Aging and Nutricia examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older people’s health and well-being. During the pandemic, the role of nutrition for health has come into sharper focus but still remains under-addressed. The report reinforces the need for integrated care pathways that incorporate nutrition and physical exercise to better support the health of older people now, but also after the pandemic.  

 

More people are growing older than ever before, representing a demographic change that will impact almost all aspects of society. Few – if any, had expected that 2020 – the start of the Decade of Healthy Aging – would be marked by a pandemic that is laying bare the challenges to aging in good health.

Those over 60, particularly older people with underlying medical conditions are among the most severely affected by COVID-19. Further, lockdown measures that were put in place to contain the spread of the virus often had unintended yet acute consequences for their social well-being.

As the world continues to contend with the serious effects of COVID-19 on societies, health systems, and economies as well as individual health, it has become increasingly clear that one’s health status upon contracting COVID-19 is crucial for success coming out of it. The value of building one’s “health capital” has generally been understood, but the importance of nutrition to overall health, in particular as we grow older is not as broadly recognized.

Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging says: “One cannot overstate the central role nutrition plays in healthy aging. Simply put, there is no healthy aging without healthful nutrition. That truth resonates even more profoundly in a time of a global pandemic and should guide the efforts of healthcare systems and policymakers who should redouble efforts to support health and resilience of older people before, and after a serious health incident.”

Older people can become malnourished because of health incidents, a disease or the conditions of aging like frailty, sarcopenia or cognitive decline. Malnutrition is often under-recognized, or is too often and wrongly considered to be a normal part of aging or the disease progress. One of the consequences of malnutrition is an impaired the immune system, leading to a greater incidence of infection whilst harming the ability of the body to recover.

On average 31% of patients admitted to hospital is malnourished, undernutrition is even more prevalent among older people and is affecting up to 52.7% older people hospitalized with COVID-19. Dr. Riccardo Caccialanza, Head of the Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Unit at the IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy highlights the importance of nutritional care: “Every effort should be made to avoid or at least reduce underfeeding in hospital in order to limit the deleterious consequences of malnutrition on patient outcomes. This is crucial for older patients who are disproportionally affected by COVID-19.”

Nutrition is an essential component of recovery from severe disease, and nutritional care should be continued after hospital discharge as the body works to restore health. Dr. Patrick Kamphuis, Senior Medical Affairs Director for Nutricia comments: “The pandemic underlines the need to address malnutrition in older people across care settings. At Nutricia we believe adequate screening and management of malnutrition should be an integral part of care systems so everyone has a chance to age in good health and have the benefits of good nutritional care.”

Read more in our white paper about the integrated care pathways that are necessary, not only in the current context of the pandemic, but more broadly in our aging societies to enable the 2 billion people over 60 by 2050 to live longer healthier, and more active lives.

Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

Building the Caregiving Workforce an Aging World Needs

We will learn many lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the most urgent and obvious is the vulnerability of older populations to serious public health risks. Across OECD countries, nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths happened in care facilities and nursing homes—yet less than 1% of the population lives in those facilities. COVID-19 demonstrated that the best place for all citizens to stay safe and healthy, especially aging adults, is in the home. And the vast majority of the older population—80% according to AARP—prefer it. When—or if—they have that option.

The 21st-Century Employer Must Be a Steward of Public Health

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, forward-looking business leaders and employers were focused on the global mega-trend of aging as an essential factor in their talent strategy. Now, the pandemic has only underscored the critical importance of aging for every business.

GCOA Report Examines the Role of Inflammation in the Aging Process, as an Indicator of Other Health Challenges, and as a Needed Focus of Integrated Care

29 June 2021 – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today released a report, A Proactive Approach to Healthy Aging: The Role of Inflammation Control & Integrated Care, which examines how targeting chronic inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases (CIDs) can contribute to healthy aging around the world. The report’s findings were highlighted at Women Political Leaders (WPL) Summit 2021 today during a panel titled “WPL Policy Toolkit – Women’s health through their life-course.”

New Report Calls for Employers to Have an Internal Public Health Strategy to Navigate the Aging Post-Pandemic World

25 June 2021 – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today released a new report, Employers’ Role in the COVID-19 Environment: Winning in the Vastly Changed World of Work. It highlights the unique convergence between the megatrend of aging and the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace and offers insights to inform employers’ public health and workforce strategies at this intersection.  Chief among the report’s key findings is the guidance to all employers “to elevate public health as a central feature of their culture and embed it into management.”

New Index Ranking 11 Countries’ Ability to Tackle Rising Threat of Resistance to Antimicrobials Shows Need for Urgent Action

New York, NEW YORK and Washington, DC (June 23, 2021) – Today the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched the first-ever global AMR Preparedness Index, a first-of-its-kind evaluation of how the governments of the 11 largest global economies are living up to their commitments to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Global Alliance on Heart Failure & Healthy Aging Unveils New Report Projecting Sharp Rise in Heart Failure Mortality Linked to Population Aging and Missed or Late Diagnosis

New York, NY – June 10, 2021 – Today, the Global Alliance on Heart Failure and Healthy Aging unveiled a new report, Undiagnosed Heart Failure: A Growing Public Health Risk and Looming Financial Iceberg for Aging Societies. The report examines the link between aging and heart failure, recognizing that a significant portion of heart failure deaths occurs in the older population.

Ageism: how age discrimination can be fought in society and the workplace – but older people have to stop believing the stereotypes first

Ageism is something that’s likely to affect everybody as they grow older and it should be treated as seriously as other “isms”, such as racism and sexism. That was the main takeaway from a recent “Solutions to Combat Ageism” webinar, organised in New York by the Global Coalition on Ageing, which aims to educate and drive change to improve older people’s health, productivity and social engagement.