Increasing Appetite: New Ideas

Many of us working in older adult nutrition often work with clients who complain of poor appetite.  This isn’t surprising since we now know that as we age our hormonal regulation of appetite is altered.  Hormonal changes coupled with changes in the GI tract (early satiety, constipation and  changes in smell and taste, etc.) can make feeding drive reduced.

Dietitians have tackled this issue creatively.  We’ve worked with clients on meal timing, food texture, meal preparation, the food environment and if required, used appetite stimulants.  Many of us have found that having appealing food smells wafting through the air can be just as successful as some appetite stimulants.  For example, baking bread prior to meal time seems to increase appetite when the meal is served.

I was so pleased to see this idea translated into practice during the UK’s Design Council Challenge.  If you haven’t heard, the UK Design Council partnered with the Department of Health to fund five innovative new design solutions to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

The design solutions are brilliant!! My favorite, the group focused on weight loss and poor appetite. Their solution, ODE, a small, discreet device that reminds people to eat and stimulates appetite by releasing pleasant food odors into the home. Magnificent!!

Here is the video that explains the device:


I’m so glad to see the UK taking a lead on thinking “outside the box” on issues around aging and dementia and for remembering that malnutrition and aging is just as important as obesity management.  Well done!

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