Food and drink packaging & older adult's function & dexterity
(2015) Food and drink packaging & older adult's function & dexterity, no. 31.
Background: Life expectancy for men is projected to increase from 79 to 84.1 by 2037. Sarcopenia is set to become a common health issue for the aging population and is characterised by a general loss of muscle mass and strength. Malnutrition is a contributing factor to sarcopenia and food packaging could be considered a barrier for older men when attempting to access food due to function and dexterity deteriorating in older age. Aim: The aim is to establish whether there are associations between function and dexterity in older men 65 years and older and their ability to open commonly used food and drink packaging. Design: Participants were recruited from older adult groups in the Edinburgh area. All participants were 65 years or older. The study included taking non-invasive anthropometric measurements (height and weight), physiological biomarkers of function (hand grip) and dexterity (9-Hole Peg Test) and completing the tasks of opening food packaging measured in time, by all healthy participants. Results: Twelve participants completed the study. When assessing the anthropometric data collected, 67% n=8 of participants were found to be overweight or obese. Significant moderate correlations were identified between time take to open a milk seal and age (p-value 0.22) and time taken to open cereal packet and age (p-value 0.47). A moderate negative correlation was found between time taken to open a milk screw top and hand grip strength test (function) with a significant p-value of 0.31. A moderate correlation was also found between time taken to open a cereal box and nine-hole peg test (dexterity) with a p-value of 0.36. Conclusion: For men 65 years and older, associations between time taken to open certain packaging and age, function and dexterity were identified. Correlations were established, in particular with jars, ring pulls and milk packaging which may have an impact on older adult's nutritional status. This would suggest that a larger study population may identify further associations. Keywords older adults, nutritional status, food access, functional status, dexterity