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A recent trial of people living with dementia confirmed the importance of colour-contrasting when it comes to what food is served on, particularly for boosting appetite

A decline in appetite and the ensuing risk of malnutrition can be a real challenge for people with dementia. However, a pilot scheme in Cumbria which saw hospital patients with the condition given their food on canary-yellow plates found more food was eaten compared to when it was served on white plates.

The scheme on the dementia ward at Furness General Hospital, in Barrow, encouraged patients to eat 10 extra grams of their meal when served on the brightly coloured plates compared to plain crockery.

The risk of poor appetite, weight loss and subsequent malnutrition can occur in people with dementia for a range of reasons. These can include forgetting to eat or not recognising the sensation of hunger again, but also because of visual problems caused by the condition. They may struggle to see food on a white plate (particularly if the food is of a pale colour such as mashed potato or fish) and so not attempt to eat it.

Dianne Smith, the matron for dementia at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said:

‘People with dementia often experience visual problems, including not being able to distinguish between different colours. Studies have shown that this can compound difficulties at mealtimes.

‘If the crockery is a similar colour to the food being served then a person with dementia may not be able to see the contrast and recognise the food that is there to be eaten.’

Sue Smith, the Trust’s executive chief nurse, added:

‘The use of colour in crockery also helps stimulate interest in patients with dementia, enhances food presentation but it also encourages appetite.’

Many adaptive crockery creators have already cottoned on to the boost to appetite that having brightly coloured plates and cups can have on people with dementia, including EatWell, the award-winning eating set designed by Sha Yao, and Find, who create great value bright yellow crockery.

Click the links to view the ranges from EatWell and Find.

Source: Daily Mail