Colombia’s Golden Line, or Linea Dorada in Spanish, is a telephone service set to advise the elderly, or those in their “golden age,” on nutrition.
The service was established by Colombia’s National Poultry Producers Federation (Fenavi) as part of its egg program, designed to raise egg consumption in the country.
According to Egg Program Manager Andrea Vargas Fenavi has “put its heart” into the program and the Golden Line.
“Egg protein provides a lot of benefits for this age bracket,” she notes, “such as high digestibility and absorption, essential to avoid muscle mass loss”.
Part of the Egg Program’s remit is to dispel myths surrounding eggs, for example that eggs are to only to be consumed at breakfast.
In establishing the Golden Line, Fenavi worked with the Colombian Association of Clinical Nutrition, which provided guidelines addressing conditions that the elderly may experience. Its participation added credibility to the initiative.
The line went live in mid-April 2020, during the very first days of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We realized that the elderly were the most effected during the lockdown, because of the high complexity of the disease, associated co-morbidities, and that older people were restricted to their homes”, explained Vargas, adding that the time was right to start a premium service for this group.
The Golden Line offers an unlimited home counselling service. The service is offered via telephone due to the elderly needing help to access virtual services. However, working with non-digital users has not been without its challenges.
Eggs can be highly versatile and easier to consume than some other foods for older people. | Krakenimages.com | Shutterstock.com
According to Carlos Villamizar, in charge of the Golden Line program and data management, the project has been extended to include text messaging and printed materials, but traditional phone calls tend to work best with this age group.
To date, almost 16,000 households have been contacted across all of Colombia, including in the rural and remote areas of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, and along the Caribbean and Pacific rims. Call times range from 8 to 58 minutes, with the average being 22 minutes. Follow-up is carried out on a bi-monthly basis. Satisfaction levels amongst the line’s users have been 98%.
Eggs and beyond
The Golden Line nutritionists provide advice not only on eggs but also more generally on dietary habits.
Claudia Contreras, the nutritionist responsible for training the Golden Line’s counsellors, notes that advisors focus on growing old healthily and dispelling myths associated with old age.
Topics covered may include: how to eat more healthily; eggs’ nutritional properties; nutritional requirements during old age; risk factors associated with being older; and, links between nutrition and certain diseases.
“Being old does not necessarily equate to disease and frailty. We need elderly people to be mentally, socially and emotionally productive”, Contreras notes.
Aging is associated with the risks of malnutrition and physiological change. The latter may be manifested in tooth loss, constipation, and loss of muscle and bone mass, for example. Additionally, diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, dyslipidemia, or neurological conditions become increasingly common. All factors that affect mobility and independence.
An increased protein intake can help to remedy some chronic or acute diseases, and this is where eggs can play a major role.
Contreras notes: “Eggs are the reference protein, with an excellent amino acid profile, and with vitamins and minerals essential for the elderly, as well as offering great cooking versatility. They are the perfect solution for this stage of life”.
Eggs are highly palatable for the elderly, who may have their sense of taste impaired by medicines. Additionally, eggs are easy to chew and swallow and are highly digestible.
There are no disadvantages to consuming eggs for those with diabetes or high blood pressure or for individuals receiving treatments for cancer or chronic renal diseases.
The Golden Line recommends two eggs per day to cover 24% of the protein needs of older consumers. Following discussion to ascertain any particular health issues, the line’s nutritionists recommend one egg in the morning for breakfast and one for lunch or dinner.
While egg protein may be at the center or recommendations, advice covers a number of areas and advisors will discuss a caller’s water consumption, physical activity, disorders, body mass indicators, obesity and diet in general.
Vargas notes: “We ask what they have for breakfast, who prepares their meals and why”, which may vary from one region to another in Colombia. Nutritionists also gather information on how callers pass their time, what health conditions they may have or any treatments that they may follow allowing a full profile to be developed.
To date, Fenavi has achieved its two objectives – improving the nutrition and welfare of Colombia’s older citizens and increasing egg consumption.
Eggs can be easy to eat and to digest. Rawpixel.com | Shutterstock.com
Colombia’s egg consumption rising
Fenavi is committed to increasing egg consumption in Colombia. Over recent years, its egg consumption campaigns have seen per capita egg consumption rise from 263 in 2016 to 325 in 2020.
Per capita egg consumption in Colombia is now approaching that Mexico which, at 378 eggs per capita per annum, has the highest rate of per capita egg consumption in the world.
Egg consumption in Colombia has risen significantly over the last five years.