Nutrition, sustainable diets and healthy ageing

Focus of research group

Our vision is to explore and develop healthy and sustainable dietary solutions and assess their impact on human health and functional outcomes in the ageing population.

Our research focus is on understanding how sustainability can be an integrated part of dietary solutions.

We conduct intervention studies to assess the efficacy of various nutrition-related strategies, i.e. dietary changes, dietary supplementation or fortification in relation to maintaining health and functional outcomes during ageing.

We run cross-sectional studies to identify entry points for the transition to healthy, sustainable, resilient, and resource-efficient food systems.

We explore how to optimize real-life dietary data into climate-friendly, healthy and culturally acceptable diets for specific target groups in selected countries using linear programming.

Research projects


The aim is to develop a nutritional tool for professionals and older people to put together plant-based meals so that each meal meets the body's essential amino acid needs.

The tool will be a guidance tool to optimize meals for elderly people who eat fully or partially plant-based.

The tool provides an overview of the user's intake of essential amino acids.

In cases where the meal content is not sufficient, the tool will suggest alternatives on which foods to integrate into the diet to optimise nutrient intake.

In-depth description

Project ALPHA will develop a nutrition tool that, based on datasets on amino acids, digestibility and sustainability, designs an algorithm in a user-friendly tool that provides users with direct feedback on their meals in terms of whether the individual need is being met. Thus, we want to make knowledge about the amino acid composition of plant-based diets accessible to everyone.

The tool will include concrete feedback on meal intake. The tool will also provide feedback on other important nutrients that are particularly relevant to pay attention to when eating a plant-based diet.

Participants in the trial:

For each of the two research sites (Netherlands and Denmark), 12 dietitians and 12 elderly +60 years old will be recruited for the trial.

Participants thus consist of 24 clinical dietitians and 24 older adults +60 years.

Plan of the trial

During the 9 months of the project, 3 focus group interviews will be held with a group of dietitians and a group of older adults +60 years respectively.

The aim is to gather knowledge about the user's preferences so that the tool's content, functions and interface can be designed taking this into account.

Focus group interviews will be held with the following themes:

  • Focus group meeting 1: Understanding the user's perspective
  • Focus group meeting 2: Conceptualisation
  • Focus group meeting 3: Testing phase


Funded by

EU Active and Assisted Living Programme (AAL)

Innovation Fund. The Foundation has no commercial interest in the project.

Project period: 1 April 2022 - 31 December 2022.

External collaborators

The project is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, Department of Physical Education and Nutrition and Division of Human Nutrition and Health and Food Informatics, Wageningen University (Netherlands) and the software developers BEIA Consult international (Romania).


Research Assistant Sine Højlund Christensen 

Professor Inge Tetens 

Read more about the ALPHA project.



SysOrg strives to establish possible intervention strategies, locally adapted, for transformation of food systems across Europe and Northern Africa. The goal is to identify possible entry points for sustainable, resilient and resource efficient food systems with less environmental impacts and high socio-cultural acceptance.

Key research questions

This research project adds to knowledge about the transition towards sustainable, resilient, and resource-efficient, circular and zero-waste food systems.

  • How can pathways to increase sustainable consumption and food production be successfully designed?
  • What are the reasons, motivations or drivers for the actors to opt for the more sustainable solution?
  • What are the intervention and entry points for the development, consolidation and dissemination of enhancing organic food and farming, reducing food waste and shifting towards sustainable diets? What are critical points when bringing these perspectives together in a system approach?

Funded by

SUSFOOD2 / CoreOrganic

Project period: 1 January 2021 – 31 December 2023.


Susanne Gjedsted Bügel,

Read more about SysOrg project.



The purpose of RENEW is to investigate a new milk mineral based supplement and its effect on bone health. In this trial 400 women will be randomized into four different blinded groups. All women are asked to consume tablets and sachets for the full year and will moreover receive vitamin D supplement.

At the end of the study the participants will be given an overall bone health status. The women have the opportunity to participate at either Sjællands Universitetshospital, Køge or Department of Nutrition Exercise and Sports and will have to schedule six visits during the project’s duration of one year.

Eksternal members of RENEW project

Name Institution
MD, Director Mette Friberg Hitz The National Research Center for Bone Health
Professor Dennis Sandris Nielsen Department of Food Science
Professor Hanne Christine S. Bertram Department of Food Science
Associate Adjunct Professor Danielle Lemay US Department of Agriculture
Executive R&D Advisor Henrik Jørgen Andersen Arla Foods Ingredients Group

Funded by

Innovation Fund Denmark.

Project period:  April 2021 ontil December 2022.


Professor Inge Tetens,



The project focuses on the elderly who do their own purchases and make their own meals.

The purpose of the study is to investigate the consequences of aging on food purchases.

Research questions

  • What are the differences in eating patterns between elderly with short and long education?
  • Are there differences in eating pattern between elderly women and men, single and couple, citizens in the countryside and in the city?
  • How do the different types of elderly people handle the transition from a working life to early retirement and retirement?
  • Is there any difference in the foods older people substitute between compared to younger people, for example, when prices change or they are experiencing economic pressure?


Knowledge of which food and beverage elderly home-living people purchase combined with knowledge of the nutritional composition of these products is used as an indicator of food intake.

Purchasing data among the elderly can thus be used to illustrate the connection between food purchases on the one hand and relevant socioeconomic factors on the other, such as length of education, gender, geographical affiliation, housing conditions, etc.

About the study

The project uses data from GfK Consumerscan, a data set consisting of on average 3000 consumers annually. These consumers report all their purchases of food and other daily necessities. The total data set provides a detailed insight into what and how much households have purchased and at what price. When this information is linked to the nutritional composition of the individual foods, we can investigate a number of parameters over time. In addition to the purchase of food, the study also includes information on purchased amount of alcohol and cigarettes.

The data set is suitable because there is a sufficient amount of respondents over 55. For example, about 15% of the panel is in the age group 65-74 years, while about 5% are in the age group 75-84 years. In addition, 5% turn 65 years per year and around 5% retire each year. This enables a dynamic analysis of the food purchase behavior of the elderly when major life changing events occur. The proportion of the panel retired in 2014 is around 20% and about 12% on early retirement.

The project takes place at the Department of Food and Resource Economic.

Funded by

Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.


Associate professor Sinne Smed

Professor Inge Tetens



The project recognizes diet and nutrition as important aspects of maintaining functionality and health throughout older age.


The objective is s to describe the dietary intake in the CALM study population in terms of average intake of nutrients, and to assess the proportion of individuals at risk of nutrient inadequacy.

More specifically, the objective is to determine the percentage of individuals at “relatively high risk” and the percentage of individuals at “very high risk” of having an inadequate intake of selected nutrients in relation to the average requirements as set by the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations.

In addition, the study will assess whether the CALM study population with respect to nutrient intake is representative of the general elderly Danish population.


Little is known about the dietary intake among Danish elderly subjects.

About the study

This study builds on data from the multidisciplinary CALM intervention study (Counteracting Age-related Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass) which is a 1 year randomized controlled intervention trial (RCT) among subjects 65+ of age, conducted at several institutes and faculties at University of Copenhagen (Link til hjemmeside The intervention comprises daily supplementation of protein and various levels of physical activity. The overall aim of the CALM study is to generate scientific evidence and recommendations to counteract age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass in elderly individuals.

The task of ‘Vitality – Centre for good older lives’ is to analyze the dietary data that have been collected through a 3 day food record from around 200 elderly subjects (age 65+) from the Copenhagen area who participated in the CALM intervention trial.

The study described above is the first study on the dietary intake among the CALM participants. The study will be followed by further studies on the impact of the protein and physical activity interventions and the dietary intake in relation to other outcomes.

The study is conducted at The Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS).

Funded by

Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.


PhD student Simon Rønnow Schacht



Can Protein-enriched ice cream increase energy and protein intake and at the same time evoke positive emotions? A feasibility study among hospitalized elderly people.

In the project "Ice with Memories", the goal is to develop a protein-enriched chocolate ice cream for small-eating patients, where the protein content constitutes a minimum of 12% of the total energy content.

The final protein-enriched ice cream will differ from current protein-enriched ice cream with a look, taste and texture like a normal chocolate stick ice cream.


The aim is to investigate:

  • If the protein-enriched ice cream can increase protein- and energy intake without substituting other meals/snacks
  • If the protein-enriched ice cream can evoke positive emotions


It is well-known that many older patients in hospitals are at risk of malnutrition. To prevent and treat malnutrition, it is especially important to ensure that the older patients consume sufficient protein and energy to be able to meet their requirements.

One dietary strategy is to enrich habitual foods to increase protein- and energy intake. The challenge with protein-enrichment of foods is that proteins may affect the final product negatively in relation to taste and texture. For older patients it is particularly important to ensure that the protein-enriched foods are consumed as an addition to the habitual diet and thus not replacing other foods.

About the study

As part of the development of the protein-enriched ice cream prototype, older patients admitted to Hospital will continuously be involved in the development of the optimal packaging, size, grip, taste and texture.

The final prototype is tested among older patients at Bispebjerg Hospital to investigate if intake of ice cream can make a nutritional difference by increasing protein and energy intake and evoke positive emotions.

Expected outcome

We expect that it is possible to develop an ice cream with at least 12% of energy from protein and thus being able to have a nutrition claim as a protein source.

We also expect that the feasibility study will provide data to suggest that a protein-enriched ice cream can be used as an add on to the habitual diet rather than being a substitution. 


Ice cream with Memories is a collaboration between Hansens Flødeis, Friis-Holm Chokolade, Bispebjerg & Frederiksberg Hospitals and University of Copenhagen, Nutrition, Exercise and Sports.

Funded by

Future Food & Bioresource Innovation.

The Danish Board of Business Development.


Professor Inge Tetens



ProChick deals with the development of a chicken protein powder for food enrichment targeting the older population and sustainable chicken production.


The aim is to investigate:

  • Foods suitable for enrichment with chicken protein powder in terms of texture and taste
  • How much extra protein is possible to add?
  • The older populations (the final consumer) perception of protein-enriched food?


A natural part of the ageing process is loss of muscle mass. To reduce the loss of muscle mass, the Danish Health Authority recommends adults over the age of 65 to increase their intake of protein corresponding to 15-20% of the daily energy intake.

This is equivalent to 1.1-1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The most recent study of dietary habits in Denmark from 2011-2013 conducted by the National Food Institute (DTU) showed that only half of the apparently healthy older adults aged 65-75 years met the official protein recommendations. If you are old, sick or healthy, a too low intake of protein can have adverse consequences for muscle strength and muscle function and thus for the ability to cope with activities of daily living. For this target group, protein-enriched foods can help to reach the recommendations. The protein powder used must be of high quality in terms of amino acid composition and content of vitamins and minerals.

Chicken proteins have the advantage of a high nutritional value and an optimal amino acid composition in relation to human requirements for amino acids. In addition, chicken proteins contain essential minerals such as selenium, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium as well as B vitamins in amounts that can contribute to a significantly increased intake in risk groups with a low energy intake or malnutrition. Chicken proteins have the advantage of a neutral taste and can therefore be added in high concentrations up to 15-20% to meals and foods without affecting the taste.

ProChick will utilize side streams from chicken slaughterhouses to produce a new, high-quality protein powder. Side streams are the term for all left over from the chicken after removal of the cuts sold to consumers such as chest and thighs. Today, side streams are perceived as waste products. The ProChick project focuses on making a more sustainable use of side streams by using them for human nutrition.

The aim is that the enriched products/meals meet recommendations for nutrient intake, are tasty, microbiologically safe and have a shelf life similar to other products in the category.

About the study

In the ProChick project, it is UCPH's responsibility to support the development of protein-enriched products and support the evaluation at UCPH at Department of Food Science with an older Danish adult sensory panel, with consumers and in a normal setting.

The older Danish adult panel is a trained panel that will assess the products' sensory properties in relation to appearance, smell, taste, texture etc. The consumer test is performed by older adults over 60 years. They evaluate the fortified products on a hedonic linking scale in relation to the look, smell, taste, texture; on emotions evoked by the products; and the attitude and willingness to buy protein-enriched products.

Testing in a normal setting will e.g. be in a nursing home. Here, a selection of the protein-enriched products will be served at times when it is natural to consume the given product/meal. The older adults will be asked what they think about appearance, taste and texture. The aim is to assess the acceptability of protein-enriched products as part of habitual diet.

In addition, the suitability of the chicken protein powder in professional kitchens will be investigated e.g. in a hospital or nursing home.


ProChick project is a collaboration between Danpo, NordThy Biscuits, MECH Engineering, DryingMate, the University of Copenhagen (Department of Food Science; Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports, GEA and The Danish Technological Institute.

Funded by

Green Development- and Demonstrations Program (GUDP).

Ministry of Environment of Denmark.


Professor Inge Tetens




Members of research group

Name Title Phone E-mail
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Agnetha Linn Rostgaard-Hansen PhD Student +4535257924 E-mail
Alexandr Parlesak Associate Professor   E-mail
Caroline Filskov Petersen Academic Research Staff +4535333464 E-mail
Hanne Lysdal Petersen Biomedical Laboratory Scientist +4535331088 E-mail
Inge Tetens Professor +4535332127 E-mail
Lea Ellen Matthiessen PhD Fellow +4535331227 E-mail
Sadime Basak Kisi Kaki PhD Fellow +4535321060 E-mail
Sofie Schultz Pedersen Student FU +4535337681 E-mail
Susanne Gjedsted Bügel Professor +4535332490 E-mail
Tenna Mie Christoffersen Industrial PhD   E-mail
Thea M Steenbuch Krabbe Bruun Student +4535324789 E-mail