By Jon Parham
All ages can benefit from education on nutrition and obesity prevention, as demonstrated this year by presentations to a group of older adults by faculty in the UAMS College of Health Professions Department of Dietetics and Nutrition.
LifeQuest of Arkansas, a central Arkansas nonprofit group that hosts activities for older adults, invited the department to speak. Eight one-hour sessions covered topics ranging from weight management to meal planning to obesity and disease.
“When you’re talking nutrition to an older population, you must consider that some may live alone, on a fixed income or may not be able to drive,” said Tina Crook, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and an assistant professor in the department. “These factors can influence their food choices and must be considered when offering them suggestions for a healthy diet.”
Many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, are linked to obesity and nutrition, said Dana Gonzales, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department. The faculty members offered diet recommendations that will help with management of those diseases.
Recommendations included so-called “super foods” high in nutrition content, such as beans, berries, avocadoes, tomatoes, nuts and leafy vegetables.
In older adults, a steady diet of these foods can help protect against age-related problems like macular degeneration, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, and some types of cancer, Gonzales said.
“The participants were very interested in learning about nutrition in chronic diseases. They asked great questions and gave insightful feedback,” said Lori Maddox, a registered dietitian and department faculty member. She taught classes on nutrition-related cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
“One of the participants told me he already knew a lot of the information discussed but it was good to hear it with a group of friends who could provide a strong support system and offer suggestions for sticking with
the nutrition recommendations,” Crook said.