New set of dietary guidelines launched for S'pore seniors

SINGAPORE - To help Singapore seniors meet their daily nutritional requirements, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has today launched a set of dietary guidelines specially designed for older adults.

According to HPB's 2010 National Nutrition Survey, only one in four senior citizens consume the recommended daily serving of vegetables.

One in four have protein intake below the recommended level while over half have inadequate intakes of calcium.

The survey also found that over half consume far too much fat and saturated fat.

The new set of dietary guidelines advises seniors to consume quality, nutrient dense foods over quantity as they are less active, choose soft foods which are easier to swallow, consume calcium-fortified or rich foods due to the loss of bone calcium and drink more fluids to counter constipation.

HPB also launched a series of healthier recipes which are simple to prepare, tasty and affordable.

The set of five recipes were specially developed with seniors in mind. They are low in calories and salt, high in fibre and whole grains, and use healthier oils.

The one-dish-meal recipes can serve a family of four people, are easy to prepare and will cost families less than $5 for each of the following dishes: mee sua with shredded chicken, curried rice, fried noodles, fried brown rice bee hoon with vegetables, and brown rice porridge.

HPB also developed a healthier catering menu for use at senior-centric community events. The menu comprises a selection of senior-friendly dishes which are prepared using healthier ingredients.

A healthier cooking interest group has been set up in Bukit Batok, where volunteers conduct regular healthier cooking demonstrations and supermarket trails for seniors and their caregivers, said David Ong, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bukit Batok.

CEO of HPB Ang Hak Seng said: "As we age, our bodies change and metabolism slows. We are not required to consume as many calories as we used to, which makes it challenging to consume sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals. It is therefore important for seniors to eat a diet of high nutritional quality that includes foods with more protein, vitamins and minerals but fewer calories.

"As older adults may have difficulty chewing, they often tend to consume more of foods such as rice, noodles and breads as these foods are soft and fill them up. What is largely lacking in their diet are vegetables and protein-rich foods like meat."

HPB said it will be working with all constituencies to introduce the set of healthier recipes to their senior residents and caregivers and intends to promote the healthier menu to caterers over the coming festive season.

yamadak@sph.com.sg