Iowa State University research addresses health in aging adults

Ames, IA —Scientists representing universities throughout the country have teamed up for research and outreach to address ways to improve health disparities facing aging adults.

The NE1439: Changing the Health Trajectory for Older Adults through Effective Diet and Activity Modifications multi-state team will present their findings during a special symposium as part of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics July 23-27 in San Francisco.

The NE 1439 multi-state project is designed to find new interventions and approaches to improve the nutritional health of older adults. Specifically, the research team is evaluating how lifestyle choices, such as diet quality and physical activity, impact food security and individual health and well-being.

The symposium entitled, “Successes in older adult nutrition and physical activity studies,” is the result of a USDA-funded multi-state research project that began in 1989. 

Dr. Sarah Francis, Iowa State University associate professor and current Chair of the NE 1439 multi-state team, is presenting her research along with colleagues from Mississippi State University, New York University, University of Massachusetts, University of Rhode Island, and West Virginia University.

“Iowa State University is pleased to join with other universities to improve the health and wellness of midlife and aging adults through research and educational programming. Research has shown that many of the chronic diseases faced by this age group are preventable through diet and/or exercise,” said Francis.

Midlife and older adults represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. This group also represents higher rates of obesity, chronic disease and disability than previous generations and younger adults.

The research examines three areas: molecular and mechanistic understanding of how nutrients and activity can influence age-related diseases, environmental factors that influence the adoption of health-promoting lifestyle changes, and lifestyle needs assessment and evaluation of lifestyle interventions that lead to measurable outcomes.

“This symposium highlights research from scientists with different specialties working on the common challenge of nutrition and physical activity among older adults,” said David Buys, chair of the symposium and research professor in the Mississippi State University Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.  “Addressing these issues will extend the health and well-being of older adults, while also decreasing the public health burden that is associated with chronic disease.”

To find out more about the multi-state research project, visit


Sarah Francis, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-1456,

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