Main Article Content
Aims: Malnutrition causes a huge burden on health and social services; wastage of hospital food is high and intake poor, particularly in older patients. This study looks at the lunch choices of older patients and considers how hospital meals could be altered to improve consumption.
Study Design: Over a four week period, the food choices of patients on elderly care wards were studied. The amount of food consumed and choice was evaluated in the context of food availability.
Place and Duration of Study: The project was undertaken in Elderly Care Medicine wards in a District General Hospital in the South East of England. Participants were older patients with a variety of medical conditions who had the capacity to consent to a discussion about their food choices, consumption of food and preference for different food items.
Methods: Of the 402 patients studied, 23% were given food they did not like and that they would not usually chose.
Results: Popular menu choices included “unusual soups” and “baked or roasted meat”. Unpopular menu choices included sandwiches and desserts with no fruit. The items that were most consumed were desserts containing fruit and vegetarian main courses. Vegetarian pastry dishes and sandwiches were poorly consumed.
Conclusion: Many older patients who are able to choose from a hospital menu failed to see foods that they would normally consume. Certain foods are preferentially chosen and when delivered were consumed well. Older patients in this geographical area chose traditional foods and foods that are more difficult or more costly to prepare at home e.g. roast joints of meat and fruit containing desserts.