An investigation of recommended serve food portions and attaining energy and protein requirements in older adults living in residential care

L. Sossen, M. Bonham, J. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Ageing populations show a propensity for reduced food intake, which impacts nutritional adequacy. Nutrition guidelines for residential care homes (RCHs) are currently based on serve size of core food groups and do not consider nutrient density. The present study aimed to investigate the weight of foods served/consumed compared to recommended serve sizes and to compare energy and protein intake with individual requirements. Methods: This was an observational study of older adults living in four RCHs. Dietary intake was estimated through the difference between weighed reference meals and a single, double-weighed 24-h food plate waste collected from each participant. FoodWorks9® (Xyris® Software, Brisbane, Australia) was used to calculate energy, protein and serves of core food groups from food intake and the menu provided to recommended serve sizes. Individual intake was compared with nutrition guidelines and estimated energy and protein requirements. Results: Across 420 participants, 9.8% completed a main meal (lunch or dinner). The servings provided [248 g; interquartile range (IQR) = 206–290 g] were less than the recommended servings for a main meal (306 g = protein/starch/two vegetables), with 157 g (IQR = 109–221 g) consumed. The menu provided for minimum serves of all core food groups except for dairy. Median energy intake (n = 389) (5272 kJ day−1, IQR = 4229–6720 kJ) and protein intake (47.3 g day−1, IQR = 35.9–60.8 g) were less than estimated requirements (8181 kJ day−1, IQR = 7300–9338 kJ day−1; 76.7 g day−1, IQR = 66.7–90.8 g). Conclusions: Nutritional needs were not met in this cohort. The findings of the present study highlight the need for smaller, nutrient-dense meals and revised menu standards to ensure nutritional adequacy in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-383
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • aged care
  • energy
  • malnutrition
  • menu
  • protein
  • serve size

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