The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) will today publish four guides outlining how different beverages can affect health. They recommend lower fat milk for children and young adults and whole milk for older drinkers. BNF science director Sara Stanner said: “We are a nation of tea and coffee drinkers, and these drinks make a valuable contribution to fluid intakes for adults.
“However, drinks containing caffeine are not suitable for young children and, in our updated guide for five- to 11-year-olds it’s suggested that tea and coffee should only be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.
“Our new guide for older adults with poor appetites suggests adding plenty of milk to your cuppa to add extra energy and protein.”
Older people can also get extra calories from hot chocolates, fruit juices and smoothies.
Miss Stanner said it is important to know that a good choice of drink for one age group is not always suitable for others.
She added: “Milk is a source of calcium, iodine, riboflavin and vitamin B12, and can contribute to hydration for all ages, though the best variety to choose may differ.
“Within the new guide for children aged one to four years, the advice is that skimmed or one per cent fat milk are not suitable as a main drink for children under five, and semi-skimmed milk can be offered as a main drink to children over two years.
“Likewise, for older people with poor appetites, whole milk is a good choice to boost energy intake and extra protein can be added by blending dried skimmed milk powder with milk and using this in milky drinks.
“Adults and teens can consume milk regularly, however lower fat versions are recommended and, if choosing plant-based alternatives, it is best to go for those that are lower in sugars and fortified with calcium and ideally other vitamins and minerals.”
Many elderly people are not getting the vitamins and minerals they need.
More than half of over-65s do not get the recommended daily dose of selenium – found in protein such as eggs and meat – while one in five is deficient in potassium.
The number of elderly people lacking in nutrients such as iron, calcium and zinc has also trebled since 2009, according to national surveys by Defra and Public Health England.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, an independent nutritional scientist, said older people often struggle to absorb nutrients but the figures were “cause for concern”.
She added: “Low intake of nutrients damages brain function and increases the risk of heart disease, bone disease and death.”
Age UK’s Alice Roe added: “We estimate one in ten people over 55 is at risk of malnutrition.
“People think losing weight in later life is normal, but it’s not.”
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