Health economic benefits from optimized meal services to older adults - a literature-based synthesis

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Malnutrition among older adults causes health problems and economic costs. Prevention of malnutrition through meal service can reduce such costs. This study estimates potential health economic benefits to be generated through meal service to home-dwelling older adults. The study contains three components: (1) systems analysis describing the relationship between meal service, nutritional status, health risk, and health-related costs, focusing on older adults, (2) a series of literature reviews to quantify the identified elements in each stage-subject combination: (i) meal service impact on nutrition status of older adults, (ii) associations between nutrition status and health risks, (iii) health care resource needs associated with these health risks, and (3) a model synthesis of literature findings to estimate the expected economic benefit of improved health status derived from meal service enrollment, using Denmark as an example. Expected economic benefits in terms of saved direct and indirect health care costs and improved quality-of-life was estimated at an amount of €307 per year per individual enrolled, of which direct health care cost savings constituted €75, while value of improved quality-of-life and reduced mortality constituted the rest. The average health economic benefit from enrolling older adults into meal service is likely to decrease with the number of subscribers. Findings like these are important to take into consideration, when making policy decisions regarding size of the meal service capacity, although it should be noted that the presented estimates are based on a number of assumptions of which some are subject to uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Pages (from-to)26–37
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 248028908