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Food Pyramid for Older Adults Gets an Update

Added emphasis on physical activity joins USDA guidance on nutrition and healthy weight

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- To correspond with the new U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid (MyPyramid), Tufts University researchers have updated the content and appearance of their food guide pyramid for older adults.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults still emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and the importance of fluid balance but now provides more guidance about the types of foods that best meet the unique needs of older adults and places added emphasis on physical activity.

"Adults over the age of 70 have unique dietary needs," first author Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, said in a prepared statement.

"Older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age, because they are not as physically active as they once were, and their metabolic rates slow down. Nevertheless, their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients for optimal health outcomes. The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults is intended to be used for general guidance in print form or as a supplement to the MyPyramid computer-based program," Lichtenstein said.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults, which is expected to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition, includes information about:

  • Whole, enriched and fortified grains and cereals such as brown rice and 100 percent whole wheat bread.
  • Bright-colored vegetables such as carrots and broccoli.
  • Deep-colored fruit such as berries and melon.
  • Low- and non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and low-lactose milk.
  • Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs.
  • Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fat.
  • Fluid intake.
  • Physical activity such as walking, housework and yard work.

"Regular physical activity is linked to reduced risk of chronic disease and lower body weights. Government statistics indicate that obesity in adults 70 years and older has been increasing, [and] physical activity is one way to avoid weight gain in later years and its adverse consequences. In addition, regular physical activity can improve quality of life for older adults," Lichtenstein said.

More information

Here's where you can find the USDA's MyPyramid.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Tufts University, news release, Dec. 20, 2007

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