Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults

Researchers from Tufts revised their food pyramid to correspond with the one from the USDA – MyPyramid – and it is specifically designed for older adults. It still emphasizes nutrient-dense foods and the importance of fluid but has added more guidance about which forms of foods best meet the unique needs of older adults and the importance of physical activity.

“Adults over the age of 70 have unique dietary needs,” lead author Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., Tufts University, was quoted as saying. “Older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age because they are not as physically active as they once were and their metabolic rates slow down. Nevertheless, their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients for optimal health outcomes.”

The USDA launched MyPyramid in 2005. It is an Internet-based program that gives individualized dietary guidelines based on sex, age, height, weight, and exercise habits. Tufts researchers developed the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults because they were concerned about computer use among older adults and how MyPyramid would adapt to print form.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults is available as a graphic print-out with icons representing various fluids, foods and exercise. The pyramid features physical activities older adults enjoy such as walking, yard work, and swimming. And in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables it emphasizes packaged versions which may be more appropriate for older adults because they are easier to prepare and have longer shelf life.

The updated pyramid also stresses the importance of fluids for older adults and includes a reminder that they may need to add supplements such as calcium, vitamins D and B12 to their diet.

SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition, 2008;138

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