Food and physical activity among older adults in the Nordic region
Healthy eating habits and physical activity have a positive impact on health, social participation, and functionality in late adulthood. The Nordic Welfare Centre’s project Food and physical activity among older adults in the Nordic region is intended to reinforce the development of policies in individual Nordic countries to promote healthy eating habits and sufficient physical activity among the 65–80 age group. The aim is to support an active, healthy senior lifestyle and reduce the burden of disease on the older adults in the Nordic region.
Improving one’s lifestyle habits reduces the risk for non-communicable chronic diseases. Risk factors such as high blood pressure and an unhealthy blood fat profile can be addressed by improved lifestyle habits, even later in life. Healthy eating habits and sufficient physical activity in late adulthood contribute to preventing conditions related to cardiovascular disease, dementia, and mental illness.
Age-related muscle loss can adversely affect strength and balance and thus increase risk of falls in older adults. This can be countered by healthy eating habits and muscle-strengthening exercise including flexibility and balance training exercise, as this helps to maintain functionality and reduces the risk of a downward spiral of inactivity, loss of appetite and frailty.
Being able to enjoy meals together with others and be involved in joint physical activities contributes to a sense of wellbeing and community. In this context, the social aspects of food and physical activity must also be considered.
Taken together, health promotive strategies supporting healthy eating habits and sufficient physical activity are important for quality of life, well-being and wellness in late adulthood. Furthermore, health-promotive strategies can reduce the economic burden of disease and illness in the welfare society. Even though the individuals decide on their own lifestyle habits, supportive societal structures can facilitate healthy practices and reduce health inequity among older adults in the Nordic region.
Project results and timetable
An analysis of Nordic health indicators and statistics related to healthy eating and physical activity of relevance to the health of the elderly will be published in early 2022. A compilation of current Nordic research into food and physical activity among older adults in the Nordic region will also be published. The report will be published in early 2022.
Examples of governance and policy documents issued by government agencies to promote the implementation of guidelines and recommendations on healthy eating and physical activity will also be compiled within the scope of the project. This compilation will include good examples of the implementation of preventive and health-promoting measures at community level.
The Nordic Welfare Centre will be arranging seminars/webinars within the scope of the project at a later stage to highlight healthy eating and physical activity in late adulthood. Further information regarding events will be published later.
The project’s target groups include civil servants employed at ministries, government agencies, county administrative boards and regional and local authorities. The project is also aimed at those who work in civil society organizations such as community associations, associations representing senior citizens and other interest groups working with issues related to late adulthood.