Testing of developed Food Based Dietary Guidelines for the elderly in South Africa
The purpose of this paper is to describe the process of the testing of the Elderly Food Based Dietary Guidelines (EFBDGs). Following a literature review, stakeholder discussions and revision, preliminary English EFBDGs were proposed and circulated to an expert panel for input. The developed EFBDGs are based on the existing FBDGs which were revised in 2012 and adapted for older people following the Food and Agricultural Organisation/World Health Organisation (FAO/WHO) guidelines. Minor corrections were received and incorporated, after which the guidelines were tested for comprehension, appropriateness and applicability in consumer groups.
A qualitative design was followed with focus group discussions. Firstly, the English EFBDGs were tested with IsiZulu, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa, English and Sesotho speaking elderly aged 60 years and older in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Free State provinces, respectively. Thereafter, they were adapted and translated into IsiZulu, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa and Sesotho. Secondly, the adapted and translated EFBDGs were tested in the mentioned ethnic groups.
In general, as expected, the results of the tests showed that the English speaking elderly responded better to the English guidelines than the other ethnic groups. The feedback in respect of the tested translated guidelines was more positive indicating a better understanding of the EFBDGs by the various ethnic groups. This is because, not only were the English guidelines translated, but they were also adapted and words were contextualised according to the day-to-day language use of the groups.
It was recommended that the guidelines be incorporated into the Integrated Nutrition Programme for the purpose of nutrition education as well as a guide for food service institutions serving the elderly. Also, it was recommended that the development of support material for health professionals and the wider community be undertaken and the material translated into all the official languages. Future strategies should include the implementation, evaluation and impact of the EFBDGs.
Keywords: elderly nutrition, food based dietary guidelines