Undernutrition is a major problem among people with dementia, according to a new report commissioned by Compass Group and Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), released today.
The Nutrition and Dementia: A Review of Available Research report highlighted the importance of recognising nutrition as a potential key factor in the wellbeing of people with dementia.
Professor Martin Prince from the King's College London Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care led a team of researchers to review existing studies on dietary factors across the life course that might affect the risk of developing dementia in later life.
He said: "For older people, undernutrition is arguably a greater health concern than obsesity, and it is particularly common among people with dementia.
"This is a neglected area of research with important implications for quality of life, health and functioning. While weight loss in dementia is very common and can be an intrinsic part of the disease, it could be avoided and we should be doing more to tackle this problem."
The report found that while obesity in mid-life may be a risk factor for developing dementia later on, weight loss tends to become a more significant issue in the 10 years that precede the clinical onset of the disease when it then accelerates.
Marc Wortmann, executive director at ADI, welcomed the report: "We believe that a focus on diet, nutrition and wellbeing is a positive approach to supporting people with dementia and carers of this devastating disease."
Mark Iddon, group healthcare director of Compass, added: "By working closely with our healthcare and care home clients, we believe we can make a positive contribution to improving the care of people affected by dementia."